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USDA’s Defend the Flock Program provides free tools and resources to help backyard flock owners follow proper biosecurity practices. Flock Defenders take steps to keep their birds healthy and reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases like avian influenza, Infectious coryza, and Infectious laryngotracheitis.

 

January 8, 2020 DDA Animal Health Advisory: Infectious Coryza (Avibacterium paragallinarum)

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Disease Information


Infectious Coryza, a poultry disease caused by the bacteria Avibacterium paragallinarum. This disease does not affect humans. The disease, commonly known as “Coryza” (pronounced core-eye-za) was first detected on the Delmarva Peninsula in backyard flocks during the Summer of 2019, and in commercial layers in the Fall of 2019, and one broiler farm in January 2020 – but it is not a new disease. Coryza is currently found in poultry in several regions of the United States and has been around for many years. Because the disease is new to Delmarva, it is important for poultry growers to understand the basics of how the disease is spread, how to prevent getting the disease in your flock, and how to identify it in your poultry.

To learn how to increase biosecurity to protect your small flock, watch USDA’s Health Harry Biosecurity video.

What are signs of Coryza in poultry?

  • Clinical signs in broilers are variable but may include the following:
    • Respiratory disease with or without swollen heads
    • High mortality in the absence of clear respiratory disease
    • Marked decrease in feed and/or water consumption
    • Nasal discharge
    • Eye inflammation
  • Older birds in layer flocks or non-commercial flocks may see any of the following:
    • Facial swelling or “Swollen heads”
    • Conjunctivitis (eye redness)
    • Discharge from the eyes and nasal openings
    • Sneezing and coughing
    • Decreased feed intake and egg production

How is Coryza spread?
The disease spreads when healthy birds come in contact with bodily fluids from sick birds. The bacteria that causes Coryza is shed in both manure and respiratory secretions. The bacteria can travel from farm to farm in litter or manure, farming materials or equipment, vehicles, and people who have picked up the bacteria on their clothing, shoes, or hands. Work crews and other visitors who do not change clothing between poultry farms are known to spread Coryza from infected farms to clean farms. Carcasses of dead poultry that are not properly composted can spread Coryza if infected carcasses are carried from farm to farm by animals such as raccoons, foxes, or feral cats.

Protect your birds by taking a few simple steps. These include:

  • Restrict traffic to essential visits.
  • Be sure that all visitors follow your contracting company’s biosecurity rules, especially those requirements for entry into the poultry house, e.g. proper foot-pan usage or personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Avoid visits to other poultry farms. If you must visit another poultry farm, be sure to change clothes and clean your hands and shoes before returning to your own farm.
  • Dedicated farm clothing and boots: make sure you have a dedicated pair of farm boots and coveralls that are worn on your farm and which are not worn off the farm.
  • Litter: do not allow manure from layer facilities to be spread in the vicinity of your poultry houses.
  • Shared equipment: do not share equipment with other growers. If you must, ensure that the equipment is clean and free of manure before bringing it onto your farm.
  • Shared services (fuel, shaving, deliveries): only essential servicemen should enter the poultry house. If they must enter the house, servicemen must wear disposable coveralls boots, and gloves.

Resources

What is Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT)?
Infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) is an acute, highly contagious, herpesvirus infection of chickens and pheasants characterized by severe labored breathing, coughing, and rattling. It can also be a subacute disease with nasal and ocular discharge, tracheitis, conjunctivitis, and mild rattling. Different strains of the infectious laryngotracheitis virus (ILTV) show marked differences in virulence. Respiratory symptoms can therefore range from mild to severe. Flocks affected by ILT may show increased mortality and/or reduced egg production in layers. Although there is no treatment for ILT, vaccines can be used to prevent infection by the virus.

While chickens are the natural host for the virus, pheasants can also be affected. ILT most commonly affects chickens older than 20 days of age, but it can also affect younger birds in areas with high bird density.

ILT has been detected on Delmarva poultry farms this fall. It is important for poultry growers to understand how this virus is spread and the importance of practciting good biosecurity at all times.

How is ILT spread?
ILT can easily be spread by transporting infected birds and through indirect contact with fomites that have been contaminated with the virus. This includes contaminated equipment, premises, and litter, and people who have been contaminated with the virus on their clothing, hands, etc. Good biosecurity is a must to help reduce the spread of ILT.

Two patterns of infection are common with ILT. A “walk in” pattern of infection occurs when clinical signs of ILT first appear in birds located near the entrance door used by poultry owners. This is a strong indication of people spread of ILT and is most commonly observed. A less common “aerosol” pattern of infection occurs when the first clinical signs of ILT are observed in birds located along the sidewall of the house near air inlets, often on the side of the house nearest to the road. This may be an indication of aerosol spread of ILT.

The ILT virus enters through the mucosa of the eye and upper respiratory tract where the virus will begin to replicate. During the incubation period (8 – 14 days), the virus is actively replicating and being shed, but the bird will not appear sick. Even though the bird is not showing clinical signs, it is contagious at this time.

What are the signs of ILT in poultry?
In the acute form, ILTV causes:

  • Gasping, coughing bloody mucoid exudate, rattling, and extension of the neck during inspiration 5–12 days after natural exposure.
  • Reduced productivity is a varying factor in laying flocks.
  • Affected birds have a loss of appetite and are lethargic.
  • Mortality varies but may reach 50% in adults and is usually due to occlusion of the trachea by hemorrhage or exudate.
  • Signs usually subside after ~2 weeks, although some birds may show signs for longer periods.

Strains of low virulence produce:

  • Little or no mortality,
  • Mild respiratory signs, and
  • A slight decrease in egg production.

After recovery, birds remain carriers for life and become a source of infection for susceptible birds. The latent virus can be reactivated under stressful conditions.

Diagnosis
With pathogenic strains of ILT, clinical signs and necropsy findings are sufficient for a presumptive diagnosis. However, in cases involving milder ILT strains, clinical signs may not clearly indicate ILT. The most classic test for diagnosis of ILT is microscopic examination of the trachea. The University of Delaware’s Lasher Lab can conduct necropsies to confirm ILT for backyard flock owners.

Mortality and Litter Management
Birds that have died from ILT contain large numbers of infectious virus, so proper management of dead birds is critical.

  • Dead birds should never leave an infected farm.
  • Owners should never have contact with dead birds from other farms. Such contact may occur via shared composters, shared manure sheds, rendering plant pickup sites, illegal feeding to hogs, or diagnostic laboratories.
  • Spreading of fresh poultry litter from flocks known to be infected with ILT should be avoided. Aerosol exposure to ILT may occur from the spreading of ILT-positive litter nearby.

Protect your birds by taking a few simple steps.
Control of ILT is achieved through sound biosecurity and vaccination. Follow these biosecurity practices to prevent ILT from spreading:

  • Restrict traffic to essential visits.
  • Be sure that all visitors follow biosecurity rules, especially those requirements for entry into the poultry house, e.g. proper foot-pan usage, and personal protective equipment (PPE). If a visitor must engage with your chickens, have them wear disposable coveralls, boots, and gloves.
  • Avoid visits to other poultry farms. If you must visit another poultry farm, be sure to change clothes and clean your hands and shoes before returning to your own farm.
  • Dedicated farm clothing and boots: make sure you have a dedicated pair of farm boots and coveralls that are worn on your farm and which are not worn off the farm.
  • Poultry Litter: spreading of fresh poultry litter from flocks known to be infected with ILT should be avoided.
  • Shared equipment: do not share equipment with other growers. If you must, ensure that the equipment is clean and free of manure before bringing it onto your farm.
  • Never transport dead birds off your farm or allow anyone onto your farm to pick up and remove dead birds. Dead bird collection areas are highly contaminated with viruses, and the risk of bringing or backtracking a disease problem to your farm is extremely high from this activity.

If the premises have been affected by an ILT outbreak, disinfect, and wait 3-4 weeks before repopulating. Most commercially available disinfectants, used at recommended concentrations, will inactivate the virus.

Report Sick Birds
Don’t wait. If you live in Delaware and suspect that your flock has ILT, contact the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health section at:
Business Phone: (302) 698-4561
Animal Emergency Hotline (after hours): (302) 233-1480
There is no charge for a disease investigation if one is needed. Early reporting is important to protect the health of your birds.

Resources

Merch Veterinary Manual Online Factsheet with Photographs and Video

Penn State Extension Online Factsheet

University of Maryland Extension Online Factsheet

A healthy and happen chicken, poultry
A healthy backyard chicken.

An outbreak of virulent Newcastle disease (vND) that began in California in May 2018 is cause for concern within the Delaware Department of Agriculture, as well as the poultry industry. Delaware has over 700 producers who raise commercial broiler chickens and over 1,000 small backyard poultry owners. Delaware also has three commercial egg laying facilities. All poultry owners need to be aware of the clinical signs of vND, communicate with their veterinarians or report disease to our office (302-698-4500), and increase biosecurity to protect their flocks. Even a small farm with just a few chickens could become infected and spread the virus to other farms in Delaware. The vND virus does not pose a threat to human health or food safety. In very rare instances, people working directly with sick birds can become infected with mild symptoms, such as conjunctivitis. Consult your physician if this develops.

Scope of the California outbreak
Since May 18, USDA has confirmed 340 cases of vND in California, including 108 in San Bernardino County, 190 in Riverside County, 41 in Los Angeles County and 1 in Ventura County. USDA also confirmed 1 case in Utah County, Utah.

Why is vND in California a threat to Delaware?
Birds are easily transported across state lines. It is possible that an infected group of chickens from California could be brought into Delaware while incubating the disease. Although the birds might appear healthy at first, they could become sick during the trip or upon arrival in Delaware, subsequently infecting any other poultry they encounter once in our State. While California has strict quarantine zones established around known infected flocks in their state, it is not inconceivable that a small group of birds from outside the zone could be smuggled out to other states in the US.

What are signs of vND in poultry?  

  • Sudden death and increased death loss in flock;
  • Sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing;
  • Greenish, watery diarrhea;
  • Decreased activity, tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete stiffness; and
  • Swelling around the eyes and neck.

Bird owners should enlist the help of their veterinarians if they observe sick poultry so that a diagnosis can be made. If you don’t have a veterinarian, you can call the Delaware Department of Agriculture to report illness or death in your flock. You can call DDA at 302-698-4500 during business hours or use our after-hours emergency number: 302-233-1480.

Photos of poultry affected with vND

Veterinarians who visit your farm will need to collect oral swabs for testing at the University of Delaware Lasher Laboratory to confirm or rule out disease.

How is vND spread?
The disease spreads when healthy birds come in direct contact with bodily fluids from sick birds. The virus that causes vND is shed in both feces and respiratory secretions. Disease is transmitted by inhalation, ingestion, or direct contact with sick birds. Additionally, the virus can travel on manure, egg flats, crates, farming materials or equipment, and people who have picked up the virus on their clothing, shoes, or hands. The disease affects almost all birds and poultry, even vaccinated poultry which may not show signs of disease but could be shedding the virus. Infection has been found in poultry, game birds, ratites (ostriches, rheas, emus), and various pet, hobby and zoo birds.

Protect your birds by taking a few simple steps. These include:

  • Restricting traffic onto and off of your property.
  • Disinfecting shoes, clothes, hands, egg trays or flats, crates, vehicles, and tires.
  • Avoiding visits to other poultry farms or bird owners. If you do, be sure to change clothes and clean your hands and shoes before entering your own bird area.
  • Washing hands and scrubbing boots before and after entering a poultry area.
  • Isolating any new birds or birds returning from shows for 30 days before placing them with the rest of the flock.

What to do if your birds become sick or die
Immediately contact your veterinarian or call DDA at 302-698-4500 during business hours or use our after-hours emergency number 302-233-1480.

Resources
More information about vND and the situation in California can be found online at through the California Department of Food and Agriculture.


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