Avian influenza prevention for mixed practitioners
Many practitioners come across small flocks on farm visits, or office visits in the cases of pet chickens or birds etc. If you or your clients have questions about avian influenza and its prevention, there are many resources available. www.oahn.ca has resources for veterinarians who may be called upon to treat small flocks, including history questions, prevention tips and fact sheets. A number of experienced poultry veterinarians across Ontario volunteered to help mentor colleagues not used to dealing with poultry species; this mentor list can be accessed by calling the CVO registrar’s office. Chicken Farmers of Ontario also has some excellent resources for small flock growers, and posts up to date information for all small flock owners (http://www.ontariochicken.ca/Programs/Small-Flock.aspx). OMAFRA additionally has excellent biosecurity tips that are practical for non-commercial growers and pet bird owners alike. A free small-flock kit can be ordered by any bird owner through OMAFRA or Poultry Industry Council. (http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/poultry/health.html)
A few quick tips for all veterinarians:
- If a high level of bird mortality is noted on any farm, please call your local CFIA office immediately.
- Small flock growers should limit access of wild birds to their commercial flocks as the wild birds can harbor disease without clinical signs.
- The avian influenza virus is spread via aerosol as well as fomites such as boots, trucks, clothes and hair, and has a relatively long survival time. It is effectively killed with products such as Virkon.
- If visiting a farm where birds of any kind (wild or domestic) are present, and traveling to another farm where birds are located, you should change clothes, including footwear, if you have come in contact with bird droppings or areas where birds are located.
Although the current outbreak numbers appear to be stable in Ontario, as migratory birds travel south in the fall, the disease may resurface.
On April 11th, 2015, the Animal Health Laboratory, together with OAHN and several industry sponsors, hosted a workshop for veterinarians interested in learning about mink medicine. 17 veterinarians attended from across Ontario, and several from out of province via teleconference. Dr. Hugh Hildebrandt, expert mink veterinarian from Wisconsin, was the main speaker. Other speakers included Mr. Brian Tapscott of OMAFRA, who lectured about the mink industry and its future, and basics of nutrition and feeding. Mr. Dre Sanders of National Feeds gave a detailed lecture about mink nutrition.
The afternoon portion of the laboratory involved hands on mink post mortem, lead by Drs. Marina Brash, Emily Martin (AHL) and Pat Turner (OVC). Other sponsors for the event included Canadian Mink Breeders Association, Ontario Fur Breeders Association, National Feeds, and MVRCS.