Viral TikTok star Emmanuel – an emu who gained a huge following online thanks to a video shared by his owner at Knuckle Bump Farm in Florida – has reportedly fallen ill bird flu,
Farm owner Taylor Blake wrote on Twitter that wild geese brought avian influenza to the farm, killing several birds.
We put our brains together and put Emmanuel in a sling so that we can begin physical therapy with him, in the hope that he will regain the function of his right leg/leg. We have been improving and improving this over the past 48 hours. pic.twitter.com/rnltpoyzAE
— echo sister (@hiitaylorblake) 15 October 2022
As a major outbreak has spread to poultry farms across the US and UK, many people are now asking: what exactly is avian influenza, and what do I need to know? What is Avian Influenza?
bird flu Influenza is a disease caused by the A virus, which affects many species of birds.
This can have significant consequences for the poultry industry because of its potential impact on the health, production and even international trade of birds.
Although avian influenza does not usually infect people, it is considered a zoonotic virus. This means that it can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected birds, and sporadic cases have been observed when outbreaks occur in poultry.
Some avian influenza viruses are more pathogenic than others. Pathogen means disease-causing, so if highly pathogenic avian influenza enters a poultry farm, it can cause sudden and significant mortality.
Emanuel just drank water himself for the first time since getting sick Please keep on praying! pic.twitter.com/nieSFKtkFB
— echo sister (@hiitaylorblake) 16 October 2022
It has been reported that the farm where Emmanuel lives is an outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain that has been affecting poultry and wild birds in the US since January 2022.
Even less pathogenic strains can make birds unwell and cause them to lay fewer eggs.
Avian influenza infection in humans can cause a variety of clinical symptoms ranging from mild upper respiratory symptoms to severe pneumonia.
Some strains of avian influenza, such as the highly pathogenic H5N1 and H7N9, can cause significant illness in humans, and in some cases even death.
The standard treatment recommended for humans is with antiviral drugs, and will depend on individual circumstances and the severity of symptoms.
In domestic birds, the most likely route of infection is through contact with infected wild birds. This can be direct contact or contact through water contaminated with wild bird droppings.
Typically, outbreaks of avian influenza on a poultry farm mean that many birds have to be killed in an effort to stop the spread.
Is there any avian flu in Australia?
Australia is classified by the World Animal Health Organization as free of avian influenza in the domestic bird population. However, we currently have a low level of circulation of less pathogenic influenza viruses among wild birds.
We have had several low and highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in domestic poultry in Australia before, with the most recent affecting farms in Victoria. Many birds were culled to eradicate the disease, and in all cases the eradication was successful.
None of the viruses that cause these outbreaks in Australia have caused disease in humans. However, it is important that we use hygienic practices and biosafety when dealing with poultry.
We do not currently have H5N1 in Australia; Waterfowl, the bird species most likely to carry this virus, do not migrate to Australia. In addition, Australia has very strict biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction of the disease through importation. Therefore, the risk of this strain entering the country is very low.
Most measures aimed at reducing the risk of outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry in Australia have focused on reducing contact between wild birds and farms. birds,
This means limiting the access wild birds can reach to farms, as well as protecting and treating water sources.
Over the past decade, we have seen an increase in the number of domestic outbreaks in Australia. Previous research suggests that this increase may be linked to an increase in free range poultry over the past 30 years.
In 2019 I co-authored a paper describing how intervention strategies can reduce risk, noting that: Migrating 25% of traditional indoor farms to free-range farming practices could reduce the risk of highly pathogenic avian There will be a 6-7% increase in the risk of influenza. the outbreak. Current practices for water treatment are highly effective, reducing the risk of outbreaks by 25–28% compared to no water treatment.
Preventing the presence of wild birds in feed storage areas can reduce the risk by 16–19%, while preventing access to wild birds in potential bridge-species sheds can reduce the risk of outbreaks by 23–25%. Is.
A major outbreak in Australia would be very costly for the industry, killing large numbers of birds and potentially posing a health risk to humans.
Although avian influenza vaccines are available for poultry, these would be considered only if the outbreak is widespread.
Following appropriate biosafety practices on poultry farms is the most important prevention tool for us to avoid outbreaks.
The author is Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health, Charles Sturt University Bathurst
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