Troup County Extension agent: Hunters, pet owners and the avian flu

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 18, 2015

Brian Maddy

Contributing columnist

The avian flu has been spread to chickens, turkeys and other domestic birds by migratory wildfowl.

Waterfowl may not exhibit any sign of avian flu but can be carriers. We can’t prevent the millions of migratory birds from entering our airspace, so what do we do? Our first line of defense is prevention. Don’t spread it around.

Hunters and others who come in contact with wild birds are at the first point of contact. There are several basic precautions to take when you come into contact with wild birds.


The first is not to handle dead or obviously sick birds. Avoid contact with bird droppings and nests. If you’re handling bird feeders or birdbaths, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes immediately.

Sanitize your hands before eating, smoking or rubbing your eyes. Pick up dead birds with an inverted bag or disposable gloves, bag it again and dispose in a trash can that is secure against access by children, pets or animals.

Hunters shouldn’t handle or consume obviously sick or dead birds. Never eat, drink or smoke while cleaning game.

Wear rubber gloves while cleaning game. As above, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes. Clean and disinfect all tools and surfaces where game is prepared.

Keep uncooked game in separate containers away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods. When cooking poultry game, the internal temperature should reach 165 degrees Farenheit to kill disease organisms and parasites.

When you come home from hunting, clean and sanitize you boots, clothes and equipment before coming into contact with domestic poultry. The virus can spread from your hands contaminated by bird droppings to your home chicken flock readily.

If you have any concerns about wild birds, contact the USDA Wildlife Services at 1-866-487-3297

Pet bird owners

Tips for pet bird owners are to make sure that you have legal certification that your pet was legally imported into the United States. Have new birds examined by a veterinarian and quarantine new birds for at least 30 days. Keep your birds away from other birds and especially away from people who keep birds outside.

If you go to a bird meeting or if you have been near other birds especially live poultry, clean and disinfect your shoes and clothing. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling your birds.

Keep cages, food and water clean on a daily basis. Remove feed from bags and store in clean, sealed containers. Throw the old bags away.

This keeps birds and rodents from contaminating the food source. Do not borrow or share bird supplies. If you do, clean and disinfect them. If you notice any unusual signs of disease or your pet bird dies unexpectedly, call your avian veterinarian.

Remember, you are the best protection your birds have.

What’s going on in Extension?

Jefferson Street Market begins Saturday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to noon at 625 Jefferson St. just off of Dallis Street.

Sept. 21: Troup County Association of Beekeepers; 7 p.m. at the Ag Center.

Sept. 24: OSHA chainsaw class, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. No cost, call the office for details.

Oct. 1: Tax issues with timber sales and harvest, 7 p.m. at the Ag Center; Dr. Ben Jackson, no cost.

Oct. 29: Small Flock Management Class. Cost is $15; lunch provided. Call the extension office to sign up.

If you have any questions or concerns, stop by or call the office.

Brian Maddy is the ANR Agent for Troup County Extension. The Troup County Extension office is located at 114 Church St. in LaGrange and may be reached at 706-883-1675, Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–noon and 15 p.m.