KY Avian Influenza event shuts down public sales and shows
(First Appeared in the April 6 issue of The Farmer’s Pride)
By Ray Bowman
Kentucky state veterinarian Robert Stout was hoping it wouldn’t come to this.
However, the detection of low-pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial breeder flock in western Kentucky has led Stout’s office to impose restrictions on the movement of poultry in the Commonwealth.
The virus was discovered by the Murray State University Breathitt Veterinary Center in Hopkinsville while conducting a routine pre-slaughter test of “spent hens” no longer being used for egg production. The affected premises is under quarantine, and the flock of approximately 22,000 hens was depopulated as a precautionary measure.
The last time Avian Influenza was detected in Kentucky was in 2009.
“In light of the situation we’re dealing with, there will be no shows or swap meets until further notice, which, I hope, won’t be that long,” Stout said. The prohibition will last at least three weeks unless new incidences of the disease are discovered. “If everything goes the best way, it won’t be long,” he re-emphasized.
A letter to stakeholders, which can be found on the Department of Agriculture website at http://www.kyagr.com, lists comingling sales and show events, such as stockyards, flea markets, swap meets and shows as being primarily affected by the ban. Private sale with farm to farm movement within Kentucky is allowed, but Stout recommends strict adherence to state law and to biosecurity protocols. “We’re trying to be proactive and encourage people to cooperate, because this can be carried on your feet or your hands or your clothes, even on the tires of your car,” he noted.
Jamie Guffey, executive director of the Kentucky Poultry Federation echoed Stout’s biosecurity recommendations in a letter to Federation membership, stating “going from farm to farm is a dangerous practice and one that is a significant concern to the poultry industry.” The letter went on to suggest a list of practices that might be implemented to reduce the spread of the disease, including;
- Cleaning and disinfectant procedure to stop the spread of disease:
- Contact poultry growers before any deliveries.
- Wash trucks daily.
- Clean footwear between deliveries.
- Wear disposable boots when on poultry farms.
- Spray off tires and wheel-wells with a disinfectant before driving on a poultry farm and after leaving the farm.
- Do not deliver product to different poultry companies without washing your truck.
“Our goal is to reduce the threat to the poultry industry; this is only possible with a team effort,” Guffey’s letter continued. “That is why the Kentucky Poultry Federation is asking our members, growers, companies, suppliers and venders to be aware of the situation and make a conscious effort to reduce the spreading of this or any disease. “
In addition, the state veterinarian’s office recommends that producers watch for early signs to prevent the spread of disease and report sick birds, unusual signs of disease or unexpected deaths to them at (502) 573-0282 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says that avian flu viruses do not normally infect humans. APHIS issued a reminder that the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165˚F kills bacteria and viruses.
Poultry and eggs generated an estimated $1.2 billion in cash receipts to Kentucky farmers in 2015, the Kentucky office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported. Kentucky farmers produced 307.7 million broilers and nearly 1.3 billion eggs in 2015.
Stout says as long as the disease exists in the wild bird populations, biosecurity is the best method to prevent the spread of the virus in domestic fowl.
“The virus does not like heat or sunshine,” according to Stout. “Our best friend, going forward, would be about a week of 75 degree temperatures.”