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Bird Flu News: Understanding the 2024 Outbreak

collage of seagulls, chickens, cows, and geese

What Is Bird Flu?

Bird flu is a type of disease caused by infection with Type A bird flu viruses, and it’s been seen in more than 100 different species of birds around the world. Avian influenza has a particular effect on aquatic birds which includes water birds such as ducks, geese, swans and more. Wild aquatic birds are known to be hosts for bird flu, which can infest their intestines and respiratory tract. Some birds, like ducks, may be infected but show no symptoms. Unfortunately, these avian viruses can infect and potentially kill domesticated birds like chickens and turkeys, causing farmers a variety of issues, and resulting in rising prices at the grocery store.

Avian flu can be transmitted to your domestic flock without direct contact with infected birds. Simply having access to a shared resource, like an outdoor pond or bird feeder, could put your chickens and turkeys at risk of contracting the disease. Although the current risk to the general public is considered low by the CDC, bird flu can be spread to humans via contact with bird droppings or feathers. Common symptoms of bird flu in chickens include sneezing or coughing, diarrhea, decreased egg production, swelling around the head and even death.

In humans, symptoms of H5N1 range from mild to severe, but have caused death in humans in the past. Be on the lookout for common flu symptoms such as fever, headache, aching muscles, cough or shortness of breath. Additional symptoms to be aware of include upper respiratory issues such as pneumonia, diarrhea and eye infection. Bird flu cannot be diagnosed by signs and symptoms alone — testing by your doctor or a lab is required.

Understanding The Timeline Of Events

Currently, bird flu has been detected or reported in 48 states across the U.S., including Michigan and the Midwest, as well as Texas and many others. There have also been confirmed cases of HPAI in domestic livestock (dairy cattle) as of March 27, 2024, in Michigan, Ohio, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas.

The first human case of bird flu was reported in Hong Kong in 1997, and since then, infection in humans has been reported sporadically and remains a key concern with the current avian outbreak. Although human cases of H5N1 have generally been considered rare, the mortality rate among those infected is significant and remains a cause for concern.

At least one person has been confirmed to have bird flu in Texas, after having had contact with dairy cows who were likely infected. Their primary symptom was conjunctivitis (commonly known as pink eye), and they worked directly with the infected dairy cows which is likely what led to contraction of the virus.

The Economic Toll Of Bird Flu

As HPAI continues to spread rapidly throughout the country, farmers and egg producers have had to kill millions of chickens to prevent the spread of the virus, resulting in an estimated loss of around $2.5 billion for the industry. Consumers may expect to see egg prices rise at the grocery store due to the smaller flocks and reduced egg output. However, poultry prices have not been impacted yet. Thankfully, the eggs that are available in grocery stores remain safe for human consumption since they are pasteurized via the usual process.

Bird Flu Prevention And Control Measures

As the threat of bird flu (particularly highly pathogenic H5N1) looms over cattle farms, implementing effective strategies to deter birds from these environments is very important. Birds carrying the virus pose a risk of transmission to cattle and other fowl on farms. You can use both physical and non-physical deterrents to keep your livestock safe from avian flu.

Physical Deterrents

Physical deterrents play a crucial role in protecting livestock from the threat of H5N1 bird flu by discouraging birds from visiting cattle farms. Implementing barriers such as netting, wire mesh, bird spikes or fences can effectively restrict bird access to vulnerable areas. These physical deterrents not only serve to mitigate the risk of H5N1 transmission, but also contribute to the overall wellness of the farm, safeguarding the health and well-being of both animals and workers.

Non-Physical Deterrents

Repellents, like Avian Control, leverage aversive scents or tastes and serve as effective barriers by discouraging birds from congregating in susceptible areas. Audio devices that emit distress calls or predatory noises disrupt typical bird behavior and help dissuade them from settling near livestock. Installing scare devices like predator decoys and reflective tape can disrupt bird behavior and deter them from roosting or searching for food near livestock.

FAQs

How is bird flu transmitted?

  • Infected birds can shed the virus via their bodily fluids like saliva, nasal secretions and feces. Transmission can also occur due to contact with contaminated surfaces, as well as via droplet transmission (inhalation of small particles suspended in the air, containing the virus.)

Can bird flu affect humans?

  • Yes, bird flu can affect humans. There have been reported cases of H5N1 spreading to humans during the most recent outbreak of the virus. Humans can contract the virus in the same ways that birds can — contact with infected birds, their feces or contaminated surfaces.

What are the symptoms of bird flu in humans?

  • In humans, bird flu can present much like a typical cold or flu. Look out for fever, headache, coughing and other respiratory issues. Eye infection is also a possible symptom.

How can I protect myself from bird flu?

  • To protect yourself from bird flu, limit your contact with wild birds as much as possible. If you must touch a wild bird, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water directly after contact. Respiratory protection should be worn if possible, such as an N95 respirator or a surgical mask.

What should farmers do to prevent bird flu?

  • Farmers can prevent bird flu by utilizing deterrents on their farms to keep wild birds away from their livestock and domesticated fowl. Physical deterrents such as nets and bird spikes can be helpful. Chemical deterrents are also available as a humane and effective option to deter unwanted wild birds from spending time on the farm.

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Avian Control Can Help Keep Your Livestock Healthy

Avian Control is a liquid bird repellent that deters birds from areas where the product is sprayed, and conditions birds to continually avoid your property due to their dislike of the product. This non-toxic, EPA-registered bird repellent protects your property as well as your livestock, and it’s safe to use around vegetation, people and other animals. Prevent the spread of bird flu to your animals by ensuring that your farm isn’t a welcome place for wild birds.

Want to find out more? contact us at 888.868.1982 or sales@solveyourbirdproblem.com.

Bird Flu News: Understanding the 2024 Outbreak