Recognising and responding to disease symptoms
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CTA. 2006. Recognising and responding to disease symptoms. Rural Radio Resource Pack 06/3. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10568/57307
Signs of avian flu in poultry and what farmers should do if they suspect their birds may be infected.
Recognising and responding to disease symptoms Cue: Since February 2006, when the first outbreaks of H5N1 avian flu to occur in Africa were reported from Egypt, farmers across the continent have been told to be on the alert for signs of the disease. But what signs or symptoms of disease should they be looking for? Is avian flu very easy to recognise? Does it have very different symptoms from other diseases? And what should farmers do if they think that one or more of their birds may have, or may have died from, the disease? Dr Christine Chisembele is the National Coordinator for the Avian Influenza Prevention and Control programme in Zambia. She spoke recently to Chris Kakunta, who began by asking what symptoms of disease poultry farmers should look out for. IN: ?Yes the first symptom that they ?? OUT: ??You keep the species separated.? DUR?N: 4?54? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dr Christine Chisembele with some important advice in how to prevent poultry flocks from catching avian flu. She was speaking to Chris Kakunta, and the interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Chisembele Yes the first symptom that they will notice is that the birds are no longer thrifty, and usually it comes with high mortality. Sometimes before you see any signs birds just drop dead. Of course it is difficult for the farmer to distinguish between especially Newcastle and this particular virus, so the best right now they can do is to inform the veterinary officers, even the health centres, tell them that they are having such an experience. The other symptoms they will notice is the birds, usually their faces do swell, in certain cases, when the disease lasts long enough for them to see the symptoms. Their heads swell and they become, to use a simpler word, reddened, there is that discolouration of red, purplish look, especially on the combs and also on the feet. Egg production for layers drastically reduces. So the main symptom you see is this reddening of surfaces which have colour, and then of course if the bird is opened a lot of organs are haemorrhaging. So usually when they see such they shouldn?t start opening up birds and doing whatever else, they should quickly inform the professionals, the nearest officers that they can come across. Kakunta You earlier mentioned that a farmer can mistake it for Newcastle. How can they distinguish the two? Chisembele Its is very difficult for a farmer to distinguish. It can only be done through laboratory tests. So on suspicion we actually put in place measures to control any further spread of such a disease. Kakunta Your emphasis has been on hybrid chickens and those that are meant for eggs. What about small scale farmers who keep their chickens on free range? How can they know that their birds are also affected by avian flu? Chisembele The same will apply to our free range farmers because their birds will stop running around the way they usually do. And in fact these birds unfortunately are not as closely monitored as the ones which are housed. So the farmer may just notice that birds are dropping dead around, and the farmer only has to inform the nearest veterinary or health centre, to tell them that this is what is happening to his flock. Kakunta I wonder if these symptoms also apply to wild birds? Chisembele In most cases in wild birds you won?t even see the symptoms. There have been reported that in most cases they just shed the virus. In a few instances they die, they just drop dead. But of course on post-mortem these symptoms can be seen. Kakunta Now once the farmer notices the symptoms, the signs that you talked about earlier on, what should they do? Chisembele Immediately they notice such symptoms they should inform the nearest veterinary or health centre. And they should keep the poultry house closed. Keep everybody away from that house until the professionals come. If anybody has to enter the poultry house, they have to go through the disinfection process. They dip their feet in disinfectant, their hands are washed in disinfectant, and they go with protective clothes, which when they leave that house they change. Then the following actions which involve collection of samples, depopulation, and all that will follow. And that usually should be taken care of by the professionals to reduce any risk of transmission to the humans. Kakunta How quickly can this disease spread from one area to another? Chisembele Oh, it can spread very fast. Contamination comes from faecal excretions, through nasal secretions and through people and utensils. So if you are using the same utensils in all poultry houses it will spread. And you know how you find that sometimes the neighbouring farmers come to that farm without knowing that it is infected; they can carry the infection. So it is a virus that can spread quite fast. Kakunta For the sake of our listeners at small scale level what exactly should they do to ensure that these measures are adhered to? Chisembele Yes, even the small scale farmers, we are trying to encourage them to house their birds. To house them because you find that a number of them, they could be close to the water bodies, where there could be these birds that could transmit. As I mentioned, the wild birds would maybe not even show symptoms, they will just be shedding the virus, like the ducks and geese. So as much as possible we advise that the villagers house their chickens, and then they keep them according to species. Like you don?t mix a chicken with a goose or a duck. You keep the species separated. End of track.
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