Farmers Beware: Avian Flu Confirmed in Two Counties in Montana
A nightmare for farmers who have chickens and other birds; avian flu has returned again. The affected flocks are in Cascade County and in Judith Basin County in Western Montana and are currently quarantined. No human cases of avian flu are being reported at this time, and the USDA has stated that there is no immediate public health concern.
Why Avian Flu is a Nightmare
According to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on April 8th, these cases of avian flu were reported from backyard flocks in Cascade and Judith Basin Counties; neither are commercial farms. The USDA is not allowing any birds from either flock to enter the food system, which will effectively remove the threat of transmission to humans.
Avian influenza A is particularly dangerous because, in rare cases, it can spread to humans and cause an extreme range of symptoms from none to severe illness and death. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that anyone known to have contact with an infected bird gets tested immediately to know if you're affected. In recent history, there have been two major outbreaks of avian flu, both coming from Asia; the H7N9 Avian Flu in 2013, and the H5N1 Avian Flu in 1996.
The USDA Has Recommendations to Protect Poultry from Avian Flu
The most important step to preventing avian flu is to keep your flock away from any wild birds to prevent any strains of the virus from entering the system. Biosecurity practices that farms can use include disinfecting shoes and hands, as well as limiting time spent in cages, and making sure to buy birds from reputable sources if you aren't a commercial farm.
Luckily, the public doesn't have to worry about avian flu contaminating any food you may be buying in the supermarket. With the flocks quarantined, it shouldn't be long before this issue is taken care of. But, it's certainly scary.