You can find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about avian influenza for the general public as well as commercial producers and backyard flock owners.Frequently Asked Questions
The Delaware Department of Agriculture requires the registration of all locations where live poultry is kept. This allows timely information on disease incidents to be sent to all poultry producers (3 DE Reg 901).
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 25, 2022 Letter for Backyard Flock Owners and DDA Animal Health Advisory: Avian Influenza January 8, 2020 DDA Animal Health Advisory: Infectious Coryza (Avibacterium paragallinarum)
You can help get important messages out to producers, the agricultural community, and the general public by sharing information on social media about avian influenza. Topics include food safety, biosecurity, and other resources.Avian Flu Graphics
2022 Delaware Manure Transport Permit Application for Farms Located in an HPAI Control Area Email completed permit applications to email@example.comMarch 10, 2022 Delaware Control Order: Restricting Movement and Spreading of Poultry Litter March 10, 2022 Map of Delaware Restriction on Poultry Litter Movement and Spread
Avian influenza, or “bird flu,” is a virus that infects domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkey, quail, and geese, and wild birds such as raptors, shorebirds and waterfowl. There are no human health concerns from the strains of avian influenza that have been reported in the United States.
Avian influenza is a serious disease concern for poultry producers and animal health officials. While influenza strains in birds, just as in people, vary considerably in severity, some influenza viruses can be devastating to domestic poultry.
To learn how to increase biosecurity to protect your small flock, watch USDA’s Health Harry Biosecurity video.
What are the signs of Coryza in poultry?
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:
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 always practicing good biosecurity.
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 still contagious.
What are the signs of ILT in poultry?
In the acute form, ILTV causes:
Strains of low virulence produce:
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.
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 a 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.
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:
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.
Merch Veterinary Manual Online Factsheet with Photographs and Video
Penn State Extension Online Factsheet
University of Maryland Extension Online Factsheet
An outbreak of virulent Newcastle disease (vND) that began in California in May 2018 is cause for concern within the Delaware Department of Agriculture and 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 threaten 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 the signs of vND in poultry?
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.
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. The 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. The 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:
What to do if your birds become sick or die
Immediately contact your veterinarian or call DDA at 302-698-4507 during business hours or use our after-hours emergency number 302-233-1480.
More information about vND and the situation in California can be found online through the California Department of Food and Agriculture.