Bird Flu in New York: What You Need To Know if You Have Backyard Chickens
News has been spreading recently about an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu virus in the United States, Canada, and even right here in New York. This strain has been dubbed “bird flu 2022" and you may not have given it much thought, but you should because it can be lethal - both to birds and to humans.
Bird flu 2022 can not only be lethal but it can also be easily transmitted and this particular strain of influenza can cause severe illness, especially in flocks of chicken and turkey flocks. If one bird comes down with the bird flu it can and will spread and cause a loss of 75 to 100 percent of a flock in just a matter of days.
If you have backyard birds, you should keep an extra close eye on them. This strain of the avian flu virus, or bird flu 2022, can cause painful and agonizing death to the birds it infects.
What Are the Symptoms of Bird Flu in Chickens?
Symptoms in chickens include swelling of the head and neck, purple discoloration on heads and legs, respiratory distress, extreme diarrhea, and more.
How Can I Find Out if My Chickens Already Caught Bird Flu?
The only way to know for sure whether or not your chickens have contracted bird flu is through a laboratory test.
What If My Chickens Already Caught Bird Flu?
If there is even a chance that your chickens have caught bird flu (you'll likely know because this disease kills them quickly and it doesn't just take down one, it will take out several chickens), you must report it to the United States Department of Agriculture even if your chickens are just backyard birds or pets. If you do not report it, there could be legal repercussions.
Does Bird Flu Affect Humans?
Generally, no. However, the Mayo Clinic explains that when it does hit humans, it can be deadly. Most people inflicted with bird flu have come in contact with infected birds however the disease can transmit from human to human. Most humans who have been in contact with infected birds and have contracted bird flu experience regular influenza-type symptoms including cough, fever, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and so forth. While most people can recover, some are unable.
What Causes Humans to Get Bird Flu?
If you handle any domestic poultry such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, or geese and they are infected with bird flu, they can transmit the disease to you through their feces, or through secretions that come from their nose, mouth, or eyes. Additionally, undercooked meat or eggs from birds with bird flu can transmit the disease to humans.
What Are The Long Term Complications of Contracting Bird Flu?
While less than 500 bird flu deaths have been reported to the World Health Organization since 1997, the lingering complications from contracting bird flu can be quite serious and include respiratory failure, kidney dysfunction, and heart problems.
Is There a Vaccine for Bird Flu?
Yes and no. According to the Mayo Clinic, the FDA has approved a vaccine but is not giving it out. Instead, the government is stockpiling them in the event of a massive outbreak.
How Can I Prevent Getting Bird Flu?
If you have backyard birds, wash your hands often after you've been around them. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if you don't have soap available. Do not bring your birds into your home, do not cuddle or kiss them. Take your shoes off before walking into the house.