Questions and Answers about AI in Kansas
- Can I still sell my meat and eggs or game birds from my farm flocks?
Yes, sales are not part of the stop movement requirement.
- Can I catch AI from my birds if they are infected?
This form of AI has been harmful to birds but has never shown an ability to infect people.
- Can I still get chicks from mail order or my local store?
- Can I vaccinate my flock against AI?
No, not at this time as vaccination against AI is not approved.
- How many backyard flocks have been infected?
Only one flock in Kansas.
- Is this AI outbreak due to large commercial flocks or backyard chickens?
Neither. It is thought to have been random bad luck as infected waterfowl passed through Kansas on the Spring 2015 migration.
- Why can't they develop a vaccine for Avian Flu?
They have. The problem with the virus is that it's constantly changing. So, the vaccine you give birds one year may not be effective as the virus changes in the future. Worse, the worry is that if all types of evolving viruses out there continue to change and swap genes, then eventually something new and more pathogenic (more deadly) will develop and we will be worse off than before. If we use a vaccine we also lose our ability to check birds for AI exposure because simple screening tests will show positive results for AI vaccinated birds.
- Don't birds get the flu, just like people?
Yes and no. We've seen that all types of wild birds and domesticated poultry can become AI positive. What our U.S. poultry producers have done is to eliminate all forms of the AI virus, even the ones that cause no illness in birds or people. This is to totally eliminate any possible mutation of the virus into something that could be more deadly. Birds are tested for H5 and H7 forms of AI before products are made, and this standard screening process has been used for all commercial poultry even before this current crisis began.
- Are there new testing requirements for small flocks because of AI?
No. Not yet at least. In Kansas, you must still show proof of Salmonella pullorum testing and a health certificate from a veterinarian in the originating state in order to bring birds into Kansas. The most alarming method of bringing birds into Kansas, in my opinion, is internet purchase through sources like online auctions. I am not sure all paperwork is checked on those purchases so this is a risk you should not take. It is likely that some states will implement their own policies for testing so before you put birds in the truck and head to a show out of state, check with them first.
- With the stop movement order, why can the store still sell baby chicks but we can't go to the parking lot to sell birds to each other?
Because the store is selling chicks from a SINGLE source hatchery. So the source and health status of the chicks are known and easy to follow. In the parking lot, a bird swap means that all types of fowl are in one space, some are sold, but others are taken home because they were not sold. If one bird in the lot was infected, it could have infected then entire lot, then when all the birds went home, everyone's home flocks cold have become positive.
- What about poultry products like feeders from another farm, or what if we purchased litter for fertilizer from a poultry grower?
This is permitted because the equipment and litter came from a single producer. It would be prudent to check with the flock owner about the health status of the flock grown on the litter. And I would certainly scrub all used equipment well, then sanitize it before using it.
- What has become of all of the farms that were infected with the flu?
All of them have either repopulated with new birds, or are in the process of repopulation. Reports show that no new infections have occurred in repopulated flocks so that is a good indication that farm clean up plans have worked well. The commercial industry seems likely to bounce back quickly.