Bird Flu

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Breeder's of Eclectus Parrots, Timneh African Grey, Great Billed Parrot, Cape Parrot

Cross posting authorized and encouraged by NAWA

 

 Bird Flu Quick Facts

Prepared by the National Avian Welfare Alliance    November 2005
http://www.nawabirds.org/

 

bulletAll influenza A viruses originated in birds.

                                                                                                                          

bulletInfluenza epidemics occur nearly every winter and are responsible for approximately 114,000 hospitalizations and 20,000-50,000 deaths in the U.S. on an annual basis. (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5107a1.htm).

 

bulletDespite the fact that the annual influenza viruses may have originated in birds, birds are not involved in the spread of the influenza viruses that infect humans.

 

bulletFor many millennia, new strains of Avian Flu have been arriving in North America via migrating waterfowl on an annual basis. H5N1 is no more likely to infect humans than the Avian Flu strains that arrive every year yet do not infect humans.

 

bulletThe typical way a flu virus makes the jump from birds to humans is through an intermediate host such as a pig. Once the virus becomes a human virus, it is humans, not birds, which spread the disease.

 

bulletPet birds are NOT a risk factor for catching the flu. There have been no documented cases of humans catching Avian Flu from pet birds such as parrots, finches and other commonly kept species (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/gen-info/avian-flu-humans.htm).

 

bulletAnimal husbandry practices in the United States are not conducive to the mingling of avian flu strains with human flu strains.

                                                                                                                                 

bulletSince 1997, more than 16 outbreaks of H5 and H7 influenza have occurred in poultry within the United States . The virus strains in each of these outbreaks were just as likely as H5N1 to become human influenza viruses, yet none of them made the jump from avian virus to human virus.

 

bulletDespite the fact that there have been millions of H5N1 infected poultry in Asia in the past few years, only a little over one hundred human H5N1 cases have been reported. This is an extremely small number in comparison to the large numbers of human exposures there.

 

Statement on Bird Flu Paranoia

Dr. Clubb has given permission to cross-post or print in bird club newsletters.

A Tragic Side Effect of the Bird Flu Pandemic Paranoia
Susan Clubb DVM

People are becoming fearful of birds. Remember when the singing of birds was soothing to the soul. With the current worldwide paranoia about Avian Flu panic is replacing joy with fear. People are developing
an unreasonable and unfounded fear of birds-all birds. A few facts need to be emphasized in order to try to help people understand what is a threat and what is not.

1. The H5N1-pathogenic avian flu virus has not been found in the United States. The poultry Industry and the USDA are very vigilant to protect US poultry populations and keep our poultry free of Pathogenic
avian Influenza.

2. Pathogenic Avian Influenza is a disease of domestic poultry - not all birds. Effective control must focus on the poultry industry in affected countries. Stringent global monitoring programs including immediate culling and correct disposal of infected poultry flocks are necessary. Every effort must be made to limit the spread of the virus to wild waterfowl.

3. Avian Flu exists in many strains and is endemic to wild waterfowl such as mallards, but nearly all other varieties of birds have a low incidence of Avian Flu. The presence of Avian Flu in wild waterfowl does not mean that the birds are diseased or that they can spread a virulent form of the virus to poultry or people. The birds that commonly harbor these viruses have developed resistance over many millennia, they rarely suffer illness from Avian Flu viruses. Avian migrations are typically North to South, not from Asia or Europe to the
Americas. Insignificant migrations mostly of shorebirds occur from Russia across the Bering Strait into Alaska but these birds are highly unlikely to come into contact with poultry housed outdoors.

4. The pathogenic Avian flu virus will not enter the US in legally imported birds. Since 1972 all birds imported into the United States undergo mandatory quarantine by The US Department of Agriculture and they are tested for highly pathogenic Avian Influenza virus during quarantine. During that 30-year period, with the entry of many millions of exotic birds, Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus has been found ONLY ONCE in Pekin Robins from China and it was not H5N1. Pathogenic Avian Influenza is an extremely rare disease in pet and exotic birds. Bird's owners should have NO FEAR of contracting pathogenic avian influenza from pet birds. People who are potentially interested in purchasing birds bred in the United States for pets should have no fear of
contracting Avian Influenza.

5. In Asia, 120 reported cases and 61 fatalities have occurred in 3 years. In this region it is common for millions of people to live in close contact with poultry, with the birds often entering their homes.  If a bird becomes ill the family will often slaughter it, clean it and cook it, potentially exposing themselves to the virus. Direct heavy exposure to an infected bird's body fluids is necessary for transmission to people. A favorite Asian dish is raw duck liver.  Millions of domestic birds in Asia have become infected and have been destroyed to control the spread of the virus with only 61 human fatalities in 3 years. The case fatality rate may be skewed by the fact that poor people in rural areas who are most likely to be infected are not likely to seek medical care unless their illness is grave.

6. Avian Flu viruses rarely, if ever, jump straight to becoming Human Flu viruses. Typically, Avian Influenza must undergo a series of mutations or a large genetic change to acquire the ability of human-to-human transmission. The potential for genetic mutation associated with exchange of genetic information between strains is higher when an animal or human is simultaneously infected with two different strains of influenza. Simultaneous infections of human and bird flu in a pig may be required for the viruses to interchange their
genetic information and become both highly infectious to humans and highly pathogenic. This potential exists in Asia where people often keep poultry and pigs around their home. This is the potential that Public Health officials fear. However, these large changes in genetic makeup are just as likely to result genetic changes that make the virus non-pathogenic.

7. Periodic outbreaks of pathogenic Avian Influenza occur in poultry around the world, including the United States. Since 1997, for example, more than 16 outbreaks of pathogenic Avian Influenza have occurred in
poultry within the United States. The virus strains in each of these outbreaks were just as likely as H5N1 to become pathogenic human influenza viruses, yet none of them made the jump from avian virus to human virus. According to CDC records only 2 mild cases of flu have been reported from people in contact with infected poultry during this time.

8. Influenza viruses do not persist in the environment outside of a host for long periods of time. Under ideal conditions at room temperatures, human flu viruses can remain infective for about one week. Exposure to sunlight drastically reduces the length of time flu viruses can remain infective.

9. As long as the H5N1 virus does not gain the ability to be transmitted from human to human, its impact on human health will continue to be minimal. However, it is important to eliminate the virus from affected poultry populations to protect both people and birds. Culling of uninfected avian populations will not assist in the control of Avian Influenza.

10. Because of governmental and media paranoia, wild populations of migrating birds may be culled or disrupted un-necessarily in misguided efforts to control avian influenza. These actions could result in the
needless deaths of millions of birds and could endanger species.

11. If pathogenic-human to human transmitted avian influenza does enter the US it will be by entry of infected humans, not by infected birds. As in the 2003 outbreak of SARS in Canada, an infected international traveler introduced the disease and subsequent cases occurred in exposed health care workers. This outbreak was brought under control by diligent Public Health response and monitoring of travelers for signs of illness (fever).

12. Media reports about Bird Flu have created an unreasonable state of fear that can be detrimental to birds and the relationship of people to birds. A rational response is necessary to avoid further deterioration
of public perception.

Americans should not be afraid of:

bulletPet birds
bulletFeeding wild birds in their backyards
bulletVisiting zoos
bulletVisiting parks where they may contact wild birds
bulletMigrating birds
bulletGoing to pet stores
bulletTaking their birds to a veterinarian
bulletAttending bird shows
bulletEating poultry products
bulletTransporting birds on airplanes
bulletLegal importation of exotic birds

 

Bird Flu Links

Avian Flu 4 Birds email list:  Af4b-subscribe@yahoogroups.com     Af4b@yahoogroups.com   

Hopefully this list will help dispel rumours and give more factual information on which to go on to protect our birds.

Doubts Over Bird Fly Tests Raised (BBC News) 

Learn the Facts About Avian Flu

Avian Influenza by Dr. Marg Wissman 

Natural Solutions for Avian Influenza 

Bird Flu Epidemic is a Hoax 

Commentary: Was Hitchcock Right?  Some Comments by Dr. Harrison 

B.C. Avian Flu Information

Avian Influenza Information

Center for Disease Control 

Cross posting authorized and encouraged by NAWA

 

Bird Flu is for the Birds!

Prepared by the National Avian Welfare Alliance November 2005

http://www.nawabirds.org/

Human influenza is a highly contagious disease. Most of us have had the flu multiple times in our lives. In the United States , influenza epidemics occur nearly every winter and are responsible for a substantial amount of illness and deaths. Approximately 114,000 hospitalizations and 20,000-50,000 deaths occur in the U.S. on an annual basis as a result of the flu (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5107a1.htm).

If influenza is so easily transmissible, why aren't more people catching the bird flu directly from birds? The reason is that birds and humans are different. The qualities that allow the virus to easily infect birds don't work well on humans.

Although it's true that avian flu viruses can become human flu viruses, the typical way a flu virus makes the jump from birds to humans is by infecting a pig that just happens to have a concurrent infection of human flu virus - 2 different viruses in the same animal at the same time. Pigs are more easily infected by both types of viruses and they serve as a sort of mixing pot. Different types of influenza viruses can exchange genetic material when they are exposed to each other in the same host. This is called antigenic shift.

Antigenic shift allows for large amounts of new genetic information to be acquired by the avian flu from the human flu virus when they are exposed to each other. If the avian flu virus acquires the genetic factors that allow it to easily pass from human to human, then it is possible for the avian virus to make the jump to become a human influenza.

Because birds and humans are very different, there are generally multiple factors that must be acquired in order for the virus to make the transition from avian to human flu. The actual factors that allow an avian flu virus to easily infect birds may prevent it from easily infecting humans. Additionally, the factors that allow the avian flu viruses to easily infect humans are likely to alter more than just the viruses' ability to infect humans. It is also likely to alter the virus's impact on the human body. In the case of H5N1, this means it is just as likely to become nothing more than the standard flu, as opposed to the killer flu, if it makes the jump to human influenza.

One of the reasons Asia is a breeding ground for influenza is the animal husbandry practices that are used there. Poultry can be brought to markets where they are exposed to poultry from other farms, and live birds are brought back home if unsold. Ducks, poultry and pigs are allowed to commingle on the farms where there is very little biosecurity. Poultry are allowed to free-range and domestic ducks are allowed to graze in open wetlands where wild waterfowl visit. This increases the likelihood that avian flu viruses which are common in wild waterfowl can mix with human flu viruses which are common in pigs. This allows for a shuffling of genetic traits between the different strains of viruses which creates new strains as a result. If the new strains have the ability to infect humans easily, then the farmer, or other people around the livestock, will catch it and the virus spreads through the human population from there.

Animal husbandry practices in the United States are not conducive to the mingling of avian flu strains with human flu strains. If H5N1 arrives in the United States via migrating waterfowl, it is not going to have the opportunity to acquire the traits necessary to become a human flu virus here.

Influenza viruses also change their genetic properties by simple random mutations. This process is called antigenic drift, in contrast to antigenic shift. Antigenic drift is responsible for small changes in the genetic properties of the virus. All influenza viruses mutate regularly and thereby undergo antigenic drift constantly. This is the reason we can't carry immunity to the flu from one year to the next. This year's flu will be different enough from last year's flu so that our immune system will not recognize it or have the proper antibodies to fight it off. Although antigenic drift can result in changes in pathogenicity in avian flu virus strains, it rarely, if ever, results in the significant genetic changes required to allow an avian flu virus to make the jump to becoming a human flu virus.

It is theoretically possible for an avian flu virus to accumulate enough mutations through antigenic drift to gain the ability to infect humans easily, without antigenic shift or an intermediate host involved, but this generally requires a specific series of mutations to happen. Because more than a single mutation is involved, the odds of this happening are very small. Any single mutation in the direction that may lead to an avian flu becoming a human flu is likely to cause that avian flu strain to be less capable of infecting birds and thereby surviving long enough to gain the additional mutations necessary to complete the jump. Even if an avian virus strain was capable of accumulating the correct series of mutations to become a human influenza, those genetic changes are also just as likely to reduce the impact the virus has on the human body.

In order for an influenza virus to be easily spread throughout the human population and result in a pandemic, it must be mild enough for people to be able to go out and spread the virus once they are infected. If the virus kills its victims quickly, as is the case with the current strain of H5N1, there will be dramatically less opportunities for the virus to be transmitted from the victim to a new host. The infection becomes what epidemiologists call "self-limiting". Because a victim quickly becomes too sick to get out in public, the virus does not have the chance to spread to a large number of people. This further illustrates why the genetic changes required for H5N1 to become a human flu virus are unlikely to cause it to become the deadly killer that the media is playing it up to be.

The current pattern displayed by H5N1 illustrates how difficult it is for avian flu viruses to infect humans. Despite the fact that there have been millions of H5N1 infected poultry in Asia in the past few years, only a little over one hundred human H5N1 cases have been reported. This is a very small number in comparison to the probability of numerous human exposures resulting from the husbandry practices there. Keep in mind that in Asia poultry are frequently sold live to the consumer who must butcher and prepare the bird themselves.

Since 1997, more than 16 outbreaks of H5 and H7 influenza have occurred in poultry within the United States . The virus strains in each of these outbreaks were just as likely as H5N1 to become human influenza viruses, yet none of them made the jump from avian virus to human virus. Of all the people exposed to the avian flu during these 16 outbreaks, according to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/), only 2 mild cases of human infection in the U.S. resulted.

Despite the media attention to Bird Flu, there is no increased risk of catching the flu from exposure to birds, other than poultry in Asia . There have been no documented cases of humans catching Avian Flu from pet birds such as parrots, finches and other commonly kept species (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/gen-info/avian-flu-humans.htm).

All birds imported into the United States have been routinely tested for pathogenic Avian Influenza since 1974. Of the many millions of birds imported during this 30 year period, pathogenic Avian Influenza was only found in 1 shipment of birds from China . Exotic birds being legally imported into the United States represent virtually NO risk of introducing pathogenic Avian Influenza virus as they are ALL tested during quarantine.

Exotic birds being bred for sale in the United States represent virtually NO risk for Pathogenic Avian Influenza unless they are co-mingled with infected poultry and at this time pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5 or H7 strains) are not known to exist in the United States . USDA is continually monitoring for the presence of Influenza and New Castles Disease in domestic "backyard" and commercial flocks.

It is important to understand that Bird Flu or Avian Influenza is a disease of birds (mostly poultry), and it is not readily transmitted to humans. For many millennia, Avian Influenza has existed in North America . It is found in migrating waterfowl on an annual basis. H5N1 is no more likely to infect humans than the Avian Flu strains that arrive every year yet do not infect humans.

If H5N1 gains the ability for human to human transmission, it will be humans spreading the disease to humans, not bird to human transmission. A human version of the virus will most likely enter the US by infected persons arriving from outside the US on airplanes. The virus will not arrive by imported birds which are quarantined, and not by migrating birds. And example of this type of disease transmission was the spread of SARS into Canada . This disease introduction was quickly recognized and brought under control due to vigilance of medical and regulatory personnel.

The fear of contracting bird flu from pet, companion, or zoo birds in the United States is totally unfounded. The chance of contracting bird flu from native birds is also extremely remote. Attention needs to be appropriately placed on surveillance of incoming international travelers if and when the virus shifts sufficiently to maintain virulent human to human transmission.

National Avian Welfare Alliance

http://www.nawabirds.org/

 

Cross posting authorized and encouraged by NAWA

 

Bird Flu Prevention & Protection Through Bio-security Measures
Prepared by the National Avian Welfare
Alliance    November 2005
http://www.nawabirds.org/



Bird Flu Carriers: Wild migratory waterfowl, ducks and geese, are the primary carriers of a variety of strains of bird flu viruses, including the H5N1 subtype which can be dangerous to humans. New strains of H5 and/or H7 bird flu viruses have always arrived every year. H5N1 is not in
North America at this time.

H5N1, is rarely transmissible from infected poultry to humans. Only people who have contact with H5N1 infected poultry, their feces, or water contaminated by their droppings may become infected.

H5N1, is NOT transmissible from human to human at this time, but it is feared that H5N1 might mutate into a form that is transmissible from human to human. If H5N1 becomes transmissible from human to human, birds will no longer be a source of infection.

Standard biosecurity measures can protect your birds from infection by various diseases including the H5N1 virus. The following simple measures can be taken to protect your birds from exposure to H5N1 and other infectious diseases.

1. If your birds are housed inside a building or your home, and you have no poultry at your home and you do not have any free roaming poultry with access to your facilities, your birds will have no opportunity to contract the disease. If you handle other birds away from home or visit an area with free-roaming waterfowl, it is recommended to shower, change clothing and disinfect shoes before handling your birds.


2. If you do not visit or frequent feed stores or other sites frequented by individuals or farmers with free ranging chickens, or other poultry, you should have no opportunity to pick up viral particles on your shoes to track into your home or facility.

3. If you have a small flock of poultry that is contained in a building or a securely fenced area with wire enclosing the top portion so that wild birds cannot enter, your poultry will be protected from exposure to bird flu from wild birds. However, if you DO have any poultry located at your facility, it is recommended that you routinely wear special footwear outside when feeding the poultry, and remove that footwear prior to entering your house or exotic bird facility.

4. If you have a neighbour with free ranging poultry, especially if they have a pond which is visited by wild waterfowl during migration, it is recommended that you put in place a security fence so that the free ranging poultry cannot enter your property.

5. If you have a pond on your property which provides access to wild waterfowl, and you have a flock of ducks or geese or swans, it is recommended that you corral the domestic or exotic waterfowl so that they cannot access the pond and contact the wild migratory waterfowl or their feces.

6. If you have family or friends who own poultry or waterfowl, it is recommended that you have them remove their footwear prior to entering your home or bird facility.

7. If you are feeding wild songbirds at bird feeders, it is unlikely that you will come into contact with a bird carrying bird flu. However, it is wise to wash your hands well after handling and refilling the feeder.

8. If you find a dead wild bird near your birds, wear disposable gloves to pick it up. Take it to a vet or state lab for necropsy and testing.

 

National Avian Welfare Alliance

http://www.nawabirds.org/

 

 

The Complete Pet Bird Owner's Handbook (Revised Ed    Read BEFORE You Buy or Adopt a Bird!    Avian Medicine: Principles and Application (Abridg 

 

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Last modified: November, 2007