OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma State Agriculture officials are warning all Oklahoma poultry producers and farmers with backyard flocks to be aware of several reports of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.
Just weeks after it was first confirmed, there are more cases of the avian flu, also known as the bird flu, in Oklahoma.
“In chickens, guineas, turkeys, it’s almost 100% fatal to them… They don’t get sick for very long before they start dying,” said Dr. Rod Hall, Oklahoma State veterinarian.
Four counties in Oklahoma have been affected. In Oklahoma County, it killed a family’s swan.
Now, officials are warning Oklahoma farmers to stay extra cautious.
“You just got to be cautious with it,” said Jake Miller, Outwest Farms.
Reports of the highly contagious avian flu in Carter, Wagoner and Grady and Oklahoma counties have poultry producers on high alert.
Oklahoma State Veterinarian, Dr. Rod Hall, is warning those just how easy the virus can spread.
“It’s very contagious and, and easy to spread from bird to bird. And people can also spread it on their shoes and clothing. Once chickens in particular become infected, they die really rapidly. So there are no treatment or no vaccine or anything for it,” said Dr. Hall.
Dr. Rod Hall said some ways you can ramp up your biosecurity is by keeping different bird breeds separate from each other.
Also, keeping the birds from wandering can play a big part in keeping them safe from wild birds that may be carrying the virus.
“We’re just really trying to get the word out to get people who have chickens in their backyard to really get them to start ramping up their biosecurity, which biosecurity is a just a fancy term for being clean, you know, being careful,” said Dr. Hall.
Some signs to look out for in your birds include lack of appetite, not drinking much water, a decrease in eggs, swelling in the nose and neck that may turn bluish or purple.
“Then they can show central nervous system signs… That all happens over maybe a 24-hour period and then the chickens start dying pretty rapidly,” said Dr. Hall.
Jake Miller with Outwest Farms said as the avian flu stays present, they will continue to take precautions.
“We just try to be as protective as we can. But ultimately, and I think if we’re in the best practices we can, we it will be okay. And we’re also working with people that are doing the right things and being proactive with it,” said Miller.
Officials say the avian flu has no threat to humans or other animals.
They ask you to call your veterinarian, county Extension educator or the state veterinarian’s office if you’re concerned about an illness in your flock.
Below is more information from Oklahoma Department of Agriculture officials:
HPAI Signs and Symptoms
- Coughing and sneezing
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme depression
- Lack of energy
- Decrease in feed or water intake
- Swelling or purple discoloration of head, eyelids, comb, wattle or legs
- Decrease in egg production
- Sudden, unexplained death
- Quietness among the flock
- Restrict visitor access to birds
- Prevent contact with wild birds (especially waterfowl)
- Refrain from visiting other poultry operation locations
- Set aside clothing and footwear to wear only when working with birds
- Disinfect footwear before entering a barn or coop
- Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling birds
- Reduce availability of food, water and any potential nesting areas for wild birds
- Fix holes in roofs, screens and walls of poultry barns or coops
- Do not share equipment with other bird owners
- Birds that have been near other poultry should be quarantined from the rest of the flock for at least 14 days