Avian Influenza Update

Health

At the end of December 2017, a strain of the H7 avian influenza was found in a green-winged teal, a widespread North American duck, collected in McIntosh County on the Georgia coast. With a confirmed case of avian influenza found in a wild duck, Georgia’s backyard poultry farmers should be diligent in their efforts to protect their flocks and the state’s population of broilers. It’s imperative to eliminate contact with wild birds, especially migratory waterfowl, and their droppings. Wild birds have known vectors of avian influenza. Backyard and pastured poultry flocks are especially vulnerable when exposed to their wild cousins, leaving them susceptible to avian influenza.

 

To protect the state’s commercial and homestead flocks, the Georgia Department of Agriculture urges poultry producers, especially backyard flock owners, to remain vigilant and follow established safeguards to protect birds and their owners. While the commercial poultry industry in Georgia runs the greatest risk in terms of potential for loss, producers should have multiple safeguards in place to limit exposure to migratory birds.

 

Since Avian influenza can more easily be introduced into Georgia through backyard flocks, protect your backyard flock by following these tips.

 

Keep Your Distance. Restrict access to your property and your birds. Consider placing the birds inside a fence, and only allow those who care for the birds to come in contact with them. If visitors have backyard poultry of their own, do not let them come in contact with your birds. Game birds and migratory waterfowl should not have contact with your flock. Keep your birds inside a pen or coop. Do not let them run free.

 

Keep Clean. Wear clean clothes when coming in contact with your birds and wash your hands thoroughly before entering the pen. Scrub your shoes with disinfectant. Clean cages and change food daily. Clean and disinfect equipment that comes in contact with your birds or their droppings, including tools. Remove manure before disinfecting. Keep stored feed in enclosed containers and protected from wild birds and vermin. When possible use municipal or well water as a drinking source instead of giving chickens access to ponds or streams. The avian influenza virus can live for long periods of time in surface waters. Properly dispose of dead birds.

 

Don’t Bring Disease Home. If you’ve been near other birds or bird owners, clean and disinfect your vehicle’s tires and equipment before going home. Shower and put on clean clothing before approaching your flock. Keep any new birds or birds that have been off-site separate from your flock for at least 30 days. Do not share tools, equipment or supplies with other bird owners. If you do need to bring borrowed items home, clean and disinfect them before you bring them home.

 

Know the Signs of a Sick Bird. A sudden increase in deaths can be a clear sign of the virus, as well as a drop in egg production, or eggs that are soft, thin-shelled or misshapen; lack of energy or poor appetite; watery and green diarrhea; purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs; swelling around the eyes; and/or nasal discharge.

 

Early detection is critical to preventing the spread of avian influenza. If you suspect your flock is infected, call the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network in Gainesville at 770-766-6810. For more information on avian influenza, call the Georgia Department of Ag’s Animal Health Department at 404-656-3667.

 

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Controlling Springtails

Outdoors

Over the past few weeks, many people have either called or come by the office with a
question about tiny, purplish-brown, hopping insects around or in their homes. These tiny
creatures are springtails.
Springtails are one of those insects that you may wonder why are they here on Earth. But
in reality, they serve a useful purpose by eating decaying plant material. They mostly live in the
soil, leaf mold, organic mulches or decaying logs. They are soft bodied so they are attracted to
moist areas to keep from drying out.
Usually springtails stay outside among the mulched areas of the yard. But on occasion
you will find them in the home around sources of moisture like sinks, bathtubs and toilets.
Keeping these areas as dry as possible is the first step in controlling springtails in the home. In a
dry environment, springtails will eventually dry out and die.
Chemical control is not necessary, but insecticides can be used. If you choose to use an
insecticide application make applications around windows and doors. Also spraying around
bathroom plumbing where the pipes come up from the basement or crawlspace will be effective.
When spraying outside of the house you have to apply insecticides with plenty of water in order
to get the chemical through the mulch and soil layers. Because it delivers a high volume of
water a hose-end spray is a good tool to do the job right. A pump-up sprayer will simply not
apply enough water with the chemical to penetrate through the mulch to the soil.
When applying an insecticide inside use an insecticide that is labeled for inside the home use.
Many of these come in a 1-gallon jug that is ready to use. For spraying outside, use an insectide,
which is labeled for scorpions, boxelder bugs or of course springtails. If you choose to use an
insecticide, remember to read and follow the labeled directions.
One other suggestion is to move any mulch away from the foundation of your home. Not
only will this help reduce the infestation of termites or scorpions by not allowing them a direct
pathway to get to the foundation, but also it will allow you to effectively spray in the soil layers.
Springtails are not going to cause major harm to your home, but they sure are annoying
and unsettling for most people. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by
phone at the office or send me an e-mail.

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