Avian Influenza – Bird Flu

There have been more Avian Influenza outbreaks globally in 2014-15 than previously so I will leave this information here. Abstracted from the Defra report 28/1/15 on Avian ‘Flu: “…. We would like to remind all poultry keepers to maintain high standards of biosecurity and report any suspect clinical signs promptly. For reports of wild birds (any number of swans, ducks and geese or >5 other birds) found dead by the public, please notify the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and see the Gov.uk website for more information: https://www.gov.uk/avian-influenza-bird-flu


Notifiable disease – Clinical Signs


Notifiable diseases – clinical signs: this is only a guide. Always check with your veterinary surgeon

Signs: Not in all birds; Depends on species, secondary infections, immune status, route of infection, social stress, environmental factors


Avian Influenza – HPAIAvian Influenza – LPAI
Ageday old to adultday old to adult
Incubation– from as little as a few hours to 9 days in individuals or 14 days in a flock– from as little as a few hours to 3 days in individuals or 14 days in a flock
SignsGeneral – high morbidity and mortality, depression, inactivity, quietness, marked decrease in feed and water intake. Mortality – High up to 100%often before other signs Enteric signs – diarrhoea, Respiratory signs – lachrymation, sinusitis, oedema (swelling) of tissues of head, cyanosis (blue discolouration) of comb, wattles, throat and neck Nervous signs – tremors head and neck, inability to stand, torticollis, opisthotonus Egg production signs – marked drop in egg production in a few days.General – (can easily be missed) – high morbidity, low mortality, huddling, ruffled feathers, depression, inactivity, quietness, decreased feed and water intake. Mortality – low but elevated Enteric signs – occasionally diarrhoea. Respiratory signs – mild but include coughing, sneezing, rales, rattling, sinusitis Egg production signs – fewer eggs laid.


Newcastle disease – PMV 1Pigeon Paramyxovirus – PPMV 1
AgeYounger birds generally more susceptible than adults.Younger birds generally more susceptible than adults.
Incubation4-6 days (2 – 15d);7 – 14 days; virus shedding 48 h after infection
SignsGeneral – High mortality and morbidity depression, listless, decreased feed intake, weakness, increased respiratory rate,moult. Mortality – up to 100% signs Enteric signs – greenish watery diarrhoea, Respiratory signs – beak gaping, gasping, coughing, gurgling, rattling, oedema (swelling) of the tissues around the eyes and in the neck. Nervous signs – drooping wings, dragging legs, twisting of the head and neck, circling, complete paralysis. Egg production signs – quick partial or complete cessation of egg production, eggs misshapen, roughshelled, loss of shell colour, thinshelled and contain watery albumen.General – First signs are green watery diarrhoea. Quiet, reluctant to exercise, lethargic, depressed, decreased feed intake, polydipsic (excessive thirst). Mortality – occasionally, sudden mortality. Nervous signs – may precede diarrhoea, with trembling of the wings and head. Birds may tumble over when landing. Partial paralysis of wings and legs may occur and twisting of the neck (torticollis). Unable to pick up grain.


Species and Spread

Notifiable disease – spread: this is only a guide. Always check with your veterinary surgeon.


Category and species of bird to which regulations apply


Use orSpecies
Reared or kept in captivity for breeding these categories of birds, the production of meat or eggs for consumption,the production of other products or for restocking supplies of game.Domestic fowls, turkeys, geese, ducks, guinea fowl, quail,pigeons, ratites, pheasants and partridge


Source of virus


Survival in the environment, water and manure, depends on the conditions and virus and varies from3 – 5 days to 3 – 5 months. More virus is excreted from the respiratory than the intestinal tract. However, infected faeces are more likely to be the source of infection. As a rule of thumb, each gramme of faeces can contain 10 million infectious virus particles. The virus will be present at similar levels in every gramme of tissue of the infected bird.


Sources of contamination that could spread the virus


Owner / Visitors / PetsBirdHousing environmentEquipmentVehicles
On hands then Hand to nose / mouth! On your clothing, On your boots, In your hair, Up your nose, Dogs and cats, Walkers on rights of wayRespiratory excretions, Nasal discharges, Mucus in mouth, In faeces, Egg shell, Eating dead birds, Cannibalism, Blood sucking mites, Blood sucking fliesDust in air, Dust on Walls, Ledges, Vents, Pipe work, Lights, Litter, bedding, Feed, Water, Nest box bedding, Beetles, Gutters, drains, Rodents, wild birds, Ponds / lakesFeeders, Drinkers, Brooders, fans, coolers Nest boxes, slats Cardboard boxes, Egg boxes, Egg trays Incinerator Pallets, Setter trolleys Crates, Pet carriers Ladders, shovels, brushes, buckets, wheel barrows Tools and tool box Sprayers, Lawn mowersFeed wagons Egg collection lorries Fuel delivery vehicles Vans, cars – belonging to couriers, pest control, post office, vets, company personnel Waste disposal – birds and rubbish
About David Parsons 19 Articles
David Parsons began his veterinary career in mixed practice which triggered his 39-year passion for poultry. Following positions as a veterinary research officer in the Poultry Department at the government’s Central Veterinary Laboratory and then as a poultry company veterinarian, he set up his own poultry veterinary practice in the southwest of England in 1985. He obtained his MSc in Applied Immunology in 1981, Certificate in Poultry Medicine and Production in 1989 and a Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust to study the“Status of diseases specific to poultry and their control in Europe” in 1991.

He has been an Honorary External Lecturer at the University of Bristol Veterinary School on poultry medicine and production since 1999,a lecturer on the Institute of Animal Health’s poultry disease course since 2000 and is a regular monthly contributor of veterinary articles for backyard poultry keepers in the Practical Poultry magazine.