Archive for Monday, September 10, 2007

Agencies testing state’s birds for signs of avian flu

Precaution would allow early detection of possible outbreak

September 10, 2007

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Turkeys pace around their pen Friday while being fed at the Clark residence, 759 E. 1100 Road. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is testing game birds, poultry and waterfoul in an effort to check for the avian flu virus appearing in the state.

Turkeys pace around their pen Friday while being fed at the Clark residence, 759 E. 1100 Road. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is testing game birds, poultry and waterfoul in an effort to check for the avian flu virus appearing in the state.

From left, Margaret Clark, Lydia Clark, 15, and Ellie Clark, 12, secure turkey and chicken pens Friday while feeding them at their home, 759 E. 1100 Road. Margaret Clark has raised birds for 10 years.

From left, Margaret Clark, Lydia Clark, 15, and Ellie Clark, 12, secure turkey and chicken pens Friday while feeding them at their home, 759 E. 1100 Road. Margaret Clark has raised birds for 10 years.

Kansas and federal wildlife agencies are gearing up for a nationwide surveillance program this fall designed for early detection of avian flu.

This is the second year for the program, and there has been no evidence of the dangerous strain of the bird flu in the United States. But that strain, known in scientific terms as highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1, has struck bird flocks in other countries and has even been contracted by a few people.

"The odds are pretty slim that this particular strain that causes concern will show up here, but it's possible," said Bob Mathews, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. "We're ready to deal with it if it does."

State and federal authorities hope to test at least 1,000 game birds and poultry in Kansas, and they will need cooperation from hunters and poultry raisers.

Wildlife and Parks officers will watch for hunters who have bagged waterfowl and ask to test the birds. The hunters' cooperation is strictly voluntary. The testing process includes taking quick swabs of the mouth and intestinal tract. Hunters were cooperative last year, Mathews said.

"I think there were a number of hunters out there who were aware of the program and after a day's hunt voluntarily went to the nearest Wildlife and Parks office to have the samples taken," he said.

The focus is on migratory waterfowl such as mallards, teal and other "dabbling duck" species. Wildlife officers also will watch for unusual deaths of the birds.

In addition to waterfowl, wildlife agencies hope to test upland birds such as quail and "backyard flocks," which include chickens, said Dr. Paul Grosdidier, state veterinarian with the Kansas Animal Health Department. They hope people who raise quail and chickens will voluntarily allow their flocks to be tested.

"We wouldn't be able to test every flock in the state," Grosdidier said. "What you're hoping to do is get a good representative sample. It's largely for sentinel purposes, to see if you have any indication of the avian flu presence."

Game or poultry breeders who want some of their flocks to be tested on a quarterly basis can call the Kansas Animal Health Department at (785) 296-2326. There is no charge.

Fred and Margaret Clark, of rural Lawrence, have been raising poultry for 10 years. Their flocks were not tested last year, Margaret Clark said.

"We would be willing to consider it," she said.

The Clarks currently have about 3,000 chickens but their numbers vary at different times of the year, Margaret Clark said. Kansas is not a large producer of poultry, and the Clarks' flocks are small compared to large breeders in other states, she said. She, too, thinks the chances of avian flu showing up in local chickens is slim. They have not made any changes in their operation since the bird flu publicity began a couple of years ago.

Bird samples will be tested at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. If there is a positive result, further testing would be done at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services laboratory in Ames, Iowa, said Carol Bannerman, spokeswoman for the USDA's Wildlife Services.

An avian flu emergency response plan is already in place, Bannerman said. If wild birds are infected, the focus would be keeping domestic animals away from them, she said.

"There would be increased surveillance in whatever type of species has the disease, and there would be an education program for individuals in the area," Bannerman said. "It would not indicate there is going to be an automatic transmission of the disease to either poultry or humans."

Comments

Ragingbear 9 years, 11 months ago

Testing the birds involve killing them. I guess they were either coming right for em, or they needed their numbers thinned out.

KsTwister 9 years, 11 months ago

http://www.in.gov/isdh/bioterrorism/PandemicFlu/pdfs/AI_QandA_5-2006.pdf

Samples are usually taken by swabbing the mucus that coats the throat of live birds, which does not harm the birds. With wild birds, a fecal sample can be taken instead. These samples to into sealed tubes and are taken to USDA-approved laboratories. The initial test is a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. A PCR test is a rapid method of identifying the virus, typically producing results within 3 hours. ....................... This may clear up the confusion they only kill the birds when a group is identified. The geese tested in Alaska were released back to the wild when no evidence was produced.

mrjohna 9 years, 11 months ago

It is good that they are being proactive, that is key. For free guides to bird flu preparedness see: http://www.pandemicflu.gov or http://www.pandemicinfosite.com

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