Bird Flu Cases Reported in Ashland and Defiance Counties in Ohio

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Chickens in Ashland and Defiance counties have contracted bird flu, prompting state agricultural officials to issue a warning.

According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the flu – also known as highly pathogenic avian flu – affected a backyard flock in Ashland and a commercial flock in Defiance. These premises are quarantined by state agents with additional monitoring and testing to be conducted in the area.

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No human cases have been recorded but it is “a highly contagious virus that spreads rapidly and can be deadly to flocks and devastating to poultry owners,” according to a statement released on Tuesday.

Local officials are hoping to get more information following a meeting with the State Department, but here are the agency’s current recommendations:

Who and what can catch bird flu?

The virus can infect poultry, including animals such as chickens, turkeys and quail, and is carried by free-flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds.

Although humans can also be infected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that recent cases do not present an immediate public health concern.

Bird flu can infect poultry, including animals like chickens, turkeys and quail, Times Gazette file photo

Can I get sick from eating animal products from an infected bird?

According to the USDA, the virus cannot be transmitted through properly cooked meat or eggs, which means they have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees or more.

However, as an added safety measure, any product from an infected herd is “prohibited from entering the food system”, according to the statement.

What can I do to protect myself against bird flu?

Extra attention to cleanliness is recommended for those who come into contact with livestock.

It is important to use soap and water – or hand sanitizer – to wash your hands before and after touching poultry.

Boot and foot cleaning is also important with the use of disposable boot covers as a possible option.

Disinfecting any tools or equipment – such as trucks, tractors, implements – used around livestock can help limit the spread. It is recommended not to move or reuse anything that cannot be cleaned.

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What can I do to protect my animals against the virus?

It is recommended to limit a herd’s contact with outside visitors and wild animals. This can be done by keeping the birds indoors when possible and only allowing caregivers to have contact with them.

Bird flu can infect poultry, including animals like chickens, turkeys and quail.  (Times Gazette file photo)

Livestock feed, water and bedding products should also be stored safely away from wild animals. It is also recommended not to use surface water for drinking or cleaning.

Watch birds for any of the following symptoms:

  • discoloration and/or swelling of the legs
  • wattles and combs
  • difficult breathing
  • reduction in feed/water consumption

Any changes in egg production and mortality in the flock as a whole should be monitored.

Contact Rachel Karas at[email protected]

Twitter: @RachelKaras3

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