Recognising Avian Influenza
Infection of poultry with LPAI viruses may cause no disease or mild illness (such as ruffled feathers and a drop in egg production, slight respiratory signs) and may not be detected. Infection of poultry with HPAI viruses can cause severe disease with high mortality. Both HPAI and LPAI viruses can spread rapidly through poultry flocks. Water fowl can be infected without any signs of disease.
Clinicians should think about possible AI infection when history and clinical exam reveals:
- A sudden increase in bird deaths
- Sneezing, gasping for air, coughing, and nasal discharge
- Watery and green diarrhea
- A lack of energy and poor appetite
- A drop in egg production or soft- or thin-shelled, misshapen eggs
- Swelling around the eyes, neck, and head
- Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs
LPAI has the ability to mutate to HPAI under the right conditions, so it always pays to be vigilant for any of the above presentations.
Acting on the suspicion of an EAD
Contact EAD hotline or state department immediately. This is a legal obligation.
Collect and/or package samples as instructed to enable diagnoses.
Working with clients to minimize biosecurity risks and prevent EADs
Help to prevent EADs by informing owners. Biosecurity posters for backyard poultry can be found here.
Information provided in the section What advice do you give your other clients with backyard chickens? may also assist you. These measures should include isolation from other birds, use of appropriate PPE to prevent spread of pathogens and decontamination once the bird has left the clinic.
Wild birds rarely show clinical signs of disease. Therefore it is important to provide wildlife carers and others who may come into contact with wild birds information on biosecurity, biosafety and hygiene. If wild birds are brought to your clinic, biosecurity measures should be implemented.