Under a state “stop movement” order issued Tuesday, backyard flock owners should refrain from moving birds off-site or introducing new birds. Alabama state veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier also encourages commercial poultry producers and backyard flock owners to observe their birds closely and continue to practice strict biosecurity measures which include:
› Isolating poultry from other animals
› Wearing clothing designated for use only at the poultry house
› Minimizing access to people and unsanitized equipment
› Keeping the area around the poultry buildings clean and uninviting to wild birds and animals
› Sanitizing the facility between flocks
› Cleaning equipment entering and leaving the farm
› Having an all-in, all-out policy regarding the placement and removal of the poultry
› Properly disposing of bedding material and dead birds
› Avoiding contact with migratory waterfowl
The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries’ Poultry Division is available to answer any questions concerning movement of poultry. The state department should be notified at 334-240-6584 and/or the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be notified at 866-536-7593 if birds show unusual signs of disease — i.e. flu-like symptoms — or flocks experiencing unexplained deaths.
Source: Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries
The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries’ Poultry Division can answer questions about movement of poultry and should be notified at 334-240-6584 if birds show unusual signs of disease. Also, sick birds should be reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 866-536-7593.
Alabama agriculture officials and the state veterinarian on Tuesday issued an order to stop movement of poultry in the state as part of an effort to corral the spread of avian flu.
The most recent of three investigations into avian flu was in Jackson County, Ala., last week.
"The health of poultry is critically important at this time," state veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier said in a statement issued with the order on Tuesday. Frazier said all poultry owners and producers are reminded to strictly adhere to the order, and backyard flock owners should not move birds off-site or introduce new birds.
Basically, the order says that all of Alabama's chickens should stay home until further notice.
The suspected strain of avian flu in Alabama and Tennessee does not pose a risk to the food supply, officials said. No affected poultry entered the food chain, and officials said the risk of human infection with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low.
The order effective March 15 comes "due to recent confirmation of avian influenza in the state of Tennessee and with three investigations of avian influenza in North Alabama," Frazier said.
"With three investigations of avian influenza in North Alabama on three separate premises, we feel that the 'stop movement' order is the most effective way to implement biosecurity for all poultry in our state," Frazier said. Alabama officials are working closely with the Tennessee and federal agriculture officials.
"We do have a problem with avian influenza in Alabama," Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said during a news conference on Tuesday. "We had a pretty bad outbreak mostly in the Midwest a year ago. We started an intensive effort of planning and getting ready [for the possibility] that we would have to deal with this."
In the first two investigations, officials said a flock of chickens at a commercial breeder operation in Lauderdale County was suspected of having avian flu, but no significant mortality in the flock was reported. The other was a backyard flock in Madison County. Samples from both locations were sent to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, to determine whether the virus was present.
The most recent investigation began following routine surveillance while executing Alabama's avian flu Preparedness and Response Plan.
On Sunday in Jackson County, USDA poultry technicians collected samples at the TaCo-Bet Trade Day flea market in Scottsboro. They samples they collected were suspect and are now on the way to Ames, too, officials said.
Spokeswoman Amy Belcher said Wednesday the Scottsboro flea market is a weekly event, and chickens are brought there from backyard flocks and small producers from across the region. Belcher said there are similar events all over the state.
"Once we get some warm weather, this should all dwindle out," Belcher said.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at email@example.com or 423-757-6569.