Pandemic Poultry Worker Health FAQ
Answers to questions posed at the May, 2006 pandemic plan preview meetings.
Can you speak to the efforts the Board of Animal Health (BAH) has been involved in?
The Board of Animal Health (BAH) has been collaborating with various federal and state agencies in planning and preparation for avian influenza (AI) arriving in Minnesota birds. The Minnesota Cooperative Avian Influenza Control Program was started in 1984 by the Minnesota Turkey Grower’s Association, the University of Minnesota, and the BAH. In Minnesota, over 75,000 turkey samples are tested annually for AI. The BAH has recently expanded its surveillance to include chickens and non-commercial poultry. The BAH website provides numerous links to valuable AI sites, including a link to OSHA’s “Avian Influenza Protecting Poultry Workers at Risk.” Additionally, the BAH is one of many organizations working with the Department of Natural Resources in surveillance and preparation for AI in wild bird populations.
- Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
Board of Animal Health (BAH) avian influenza information. Attention: Non-MDH link
- Avian Influenza Protecting Poultry Workers at Risk
OSHA bulletin with recommendations for poultry worker safety. Attention: Non-MDH link
How many days before the virus is no longer viable in bird droppings?
The viability of AI in feces is generally dependent on three things:
- temperature of environment
- humidity of environment
- exposure to sunlight
Generally, influenza viruses survive for up to 7 days at 70°F under “good” conditions (high humidity and no sunlight), but they can survive longer in colder temperatures. Experimentally, infected chicken feces can remain positive for virus through 35 days when stored wet at 4°C (~ 39°F) and not exposed to sunlight.
Have they linked with MDH and local public health agencies to assist with informing and educating producers/managers?
Yes. The BAH has produced a biosecurity brochure for large-scale poultry producers in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This pamphlet gives general information on AI, Minnesota’s surveillance efforts, and recommendations to maintain healthy flocks and prevent AI introduction. Additionally, in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the University of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), two AI brochures have been produced for distribution. One pamphlet is for practicing veterinarians and pet owners, the other for small-scale poultry producers. Each covers general information regarding AI, frequently asked questions, and recommendations to protect ones pets/small flocks.
Have there been any proactive educational efforts prepared for the individual livestock producer?
Yes. In addition to the efforts mentioned above, the BAH, MDA, and University of Minnesota are working closely with industry officials to inform and educate poultry producers. AI has been an area of focus in recent annual meetings for the Minnesota Turkey Grower’s Association (MTGA) and the Midwest Poultry Federation. MTGA members (approximately 75% of all turkey producers in the state) receive a monthly magazine with AI updates as well as featured web links for the most current information. Soon producers will be receiving “AI Info kits” with various articles and fact sheets addressing AI and its relation to the poultry producer.
Is the H5N1 virus also secreted in large amounts from infected pig droppings?
Under experimental conditions, pigs can be infected with highly lethal H5N1 viruses, but these viruses are not readily transmitted between pigs. Studies have found little to no viable virus in the feces of pigs. A recent report suggests that the susceptibility of pigs to avian influenza viruses has no relation to the pathogenicity of the strain in chickens. The results also indicate that the susceptibility of pigs to H5N1 AI virus is low, and that genetic reassortments of H5N1 AI viruses in pigs is unlikely.
When Avian Flu arrives in the U.S. should the public stop feeding the regular bird population?
At this time, there is no recommendation from government or wildlife organizations for the public to cease feeding birds from birdfeeders. It is not likely that feeding wild songbirds would increase the risk of avian influenza. However, should AI reach the United States coast, recommendations to stop feeding wild birds may follow. As always, it is suggested people clean and disinfect their bird feeders on a regular basis to help prevent other disease spread between birds.