State veterinarian asks SC chicken owners to ramp up biosecurity - FOX Carolina 21

State veterinarian asks SC chicken owners to ramp up biosecurity to protect against avian flu

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Chickens feeding (Wikimedia Commons) Chickens feeding (Wikimedia Commons)
CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

South Carolina State Veterinarian Dr. Boyd Parr is urging South Carolina poultry farmers and chicken owners to “intensify biosecurity efforts” after a case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was confirmed Saturday in a commercial flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee.

The Tennessee case is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States this year.

Symptoms of HPAI in poultry include coughing, swollen face, mucus discharge from nose and eyes, depression, marked loss of appetite, drop in egg production and sudden death in multiple birds in a very short amount of time, according to a news release from Clemson University.

No cases have been reported in South Carolina but Parr, director of Clemson University Livestock Poultry Health, said farmers should stay vigilant as the disease can be devastating to poultry farms.

 “The financial stakes to South Carolina are very high. We have both large commercial poultry operations, and small, backyard poultry flocks all over the state, including cities, towns and suburbs,” Parr said in a news release from Clemson University. “This is literally an issue that affects the entire state. If HPAI does arrive, the potential impact is severe, so we stress immediate reporting of any unexplained poultry mortality.”

Parr said chicken owners should watch their birds closely and report unexplained illness or death to Clemson University LPH at 803-788-2260.

“Prevention is the immediate goal,” Parr said. “Clemson University LPH spreads the word about good biosecurity measures throughout the year, but with HPAI now in the Southeast, it is all the more important.”

Chicken owners should keep their flocks away from wild waterfowl and the ponds that attract them and hunters should take precautions to keep from tracking the virus back to a domestic flock of chickens or turkeys.

“If you have poultry and decide to hunt, never go straight from the hunt to the birds,” Parr said. “Ideally, you should wait three days after hunting to return to your birds. After visiting another poultry farm, bird show or live bird market, you should shower and change clothing and footwear before working with your birds. Visitors should wear protective clothing and footwear as well.”

Parr also recommends separating new birds from the home flock for four weeks to see if they show any signs of disease, and buying new birds only from reputable breeders.

Pests such as rodents, raccoons and opossums can also spread the disease if they come into contact with chickens.

If the disease is discovered in South Carolina, LPH will conduct immediate testing to confirm the disease and to depopulate and safely dispose of infected flocks if necessary, Clemson said.

Clemson released this pamphlet on keeping chickens safe.

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