Should you be worried about the H5N2 avian flu?
As of this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that Wisconsin has had three outbreaks of bird flu, including a flock of 40 birds in Juneau County. The flue is deadly to poultry, but not dangerous to humans, at least so far, so our attitude is: be careful, but not worried.
Biologists think the virus most likely spread has been spread by wild birds, including ducks, and they’re worried it could spread further this fall when wild ducks fly south for the winter. H5N2 avian influenza has turned up since December in poultry farms and wild birds in the Pacific and Central flyways. So far, the flu has been found in 11 states.
There’s not much any of us can do to isolate our backyard birds from their wild cousins and the diseases they may carry, but all of us can practice good bio-security in our own environments to make sure we are not inadvertently spreading a disease to our neighbors' flocks (or vice versa), and to make sure we aren’t bringing bacteria into our homes.
• We wash our hands after handling our chickens or picking eggs
• We keep our eggs in the bathroom or laundry room, not in the kitchen.
• When we wash our eggs, we do it in the bathroom sink, not the kitchen sink.
• Our barn shoes stay outside, or in the entryway, so we don’t bring anything into the house.
• And when we visit our friends’ flocks, we’re especially careful not to step anyplace we shouldn’t.
Sanitation is also the reason we don’t let people touch our chicks or chickens at the store. Since many of our customers are chicken keepers, we don’t want to take a chance that a virus will go from our flock to theirs, or the other way.
So for now, we're not worried. But if we get more information about N5H2, we will pass it along.