Nearby Avian Flu Outbreak Means La. Producers Should Be Cautious

Theresia Lavergne, Chaney, John A., Stephens, Matthew F., Coolman, Denise  |  4/19/2005 10:29:22 PM

News Release Distributed 06/01/04 

LSU AgCenter poultry specialists say Louisiana poultry producers need to use extra caution now that Avian Influenza has been found in a Northeast Texas flock.

A report from the Texas Animal Health Commission Friday (May 28) states the disease was found in a breeder flock on a commercial poultry farm in Hopkins County, Texas, near the town of Sulphur Springs. That entire flock was disposed of to prevent transmission of the disease to other flocks.

Although the disease has not been found in Louisiana so far, LSU AgCenter poultry specialist Dr. Theresia Lavergne said being vigilant about practicing biosecurity measures is an important way to prevent the spread of a disease and to keep it out of Louisiana flocks.

"Biosecurity means protecting poultry flocks from any type of infectious agent – whether they are viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic," she said. "Biosecurity always has been an important practice; however, the recent outbreaks of poultry diseases in the United States have made biosecurity extremely critical."

Biosecurity practices are not only important for the commercial poultry industry, but they are essential for backyard/hobby flocks, too, the experts say.

"Poultry growers should be real careful now," said Matthew Stephens, an LSU AgCenter area agent in North Louisiana. "They should make sure they disinfect before going onto someone else’s property, and they should make sure visitors to their property are disinfected. It is a good idea to have an extra pair of boots to use exclusively on one property."

Other biosecurity practices offered by the LSU AgCenter include:

–Access restriction. Keep a record of the dates of visits, the names of the individual visitors and the nature of their business. Have all delivery personnel, inspectors, repair people and so forth sign in.

–Security involving service personnel. Flock supervisors and veterinarians need to do all they can to protect each flock from contamination. They should sanitize their hands, feet and boots before they leave a farm and again before they enter another farm. They should clean their vehicles (inside and out), too.

–Vaccination. Use available vaccines for disease prevention.

–Flock profiling. Routinely submit birds to a laboratory to have their blood titers checked for specific diseases.

–Housecleaning procedures. Follow proper cleaning and disinfection procedures for floor houses or cage houses.

The source of the virus in Texas was not known last week, but officials there said migratory waterfowl are a natural reservoir for the disease, which usually is transmitted from bird to bird through respiratory discharge. The virus also can be passed in bird manure, then transmitted to flocks on boots, shoes, clothing, equipment or tires.

Texas officials said precautions are being taken to reduce the chances of the spread of the disease.

"The poultry houses will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before new birds will be allowed on the farm," said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas’s state veterinarian and executive director of the Texas Animal Health Commission. "Texas veterinarians and animal health officials are following strict biosecurity measures to prevent transporting virus off the infected farm – or to or from any premise they visit."

For more information on other topics related to crops and livestock, as well as a variety of issues ranging from natural resources to your family and home, go to www.lsuagcenter.com  or visit your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office.

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Contacts:
Theresia Lavergne at (225) 578-2219 or tlavergne@agcenter.lsu.edu
Matthew Stephens at (318) 644-5865 or mstephens@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writers:
John Chaney at (318) 473-6605 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

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