I attended the annual National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) conference this past June in Charlotte, NC as a Wisconsin delegate. I learned more about Avian Influenza than I’d wanted to know. At that Charlotte meeting, Dr. Dale Lauer from Minnesota asked me to speak about our Gamebird Industry at a breakout session at the USAHA (United States Animal Health Association) meeting being held in Kansas City in October. At that breakout session I heard even more about Avian Influenza, and the consequences of an outbreak (or anti-bodies indicating an outbreak may have occurred).
Here are some general things I have learned:
If there is an outbreak of Avian Influenza on your farm, and the Federal and State authorities determine that your birds need to be destroyed, indemnification (payment) will be made. If you had been monitoring for Avian Influenza prior to the incident, full indemnification will be made. If you had not been A.I. monitoring, indemnification will be paid $.25 on the $1.00.
If you choose to test for A.I. (which you must if you wish to transport your birds across some state lines, or into other countries) there are several accepted methods to test. Using a blood test will indicate if there are antibodies to Avian Influenza present. If A.I. antibodies show up in the bird’s blood, most likely quarantine will be placed on your farm and further testing will be required to determine if A.I. virus is present. Alternatively you can test directly for the A.I. virus by using PCR (polymerase chain reaction), by swabbing the tracheas of the tested birds. Again PCR will test for the presence of A.I. virus. Blood testing is cheaper, but also introduces an increased chance of a possible situation where you may get quarantined when in fact no virus is present. In short, test using PCR.
Be aware that if there is suspicion of Avian Influenza on your farm, State and Federal authorities will be in control of your farm and your facilities. Most likely you will not be able to ship or sell your birds until the quarantine is lifted.
If you have a local Veterinarian who signs your health certificates or works with you and your birds, make that Veterinarian the Vet of Record if authorities ever show up at your farm. Having a Vet represent you gives you more rights.
Avian Influenza is “endemic” in the wild duck population across the United States. Federal and State authorities aren’t even testing ducks for A.I., because they know they will find the virus. A.I. (low path) doesn’t usually affect or kill ducks. Since ducks are carriers, don’t have ducks anywhere near your pheasants, partridges or quail. Nearly all of the A.I. outbreaks over the past few years that have occurred on Gamebird farms have in some way involved ducks.