New Poultry Disease in Washington

By Steve Jackson

Washington state researchers say a new form of viral poultry disease has been confirmed in the state. The illness, called Infectious Bursal Disease Virus, or IBDV, affects chickens and turkeys and can result in a high death rate in flocks.

It especially affects young birds, but researchers stress the illness will not affect people, nor is it a food safety issue. Dr. Tim Baszler of the WSU animal disease diagnostic lab says the disease has been confirmed in one flock in Washington State. He says the virus is spread via manure from infected poultry.

Baszler: "It’s a hardy virus, it can be hard to kill. It can be killed with disinfectants, it can persist in the environment, but it can stick on peoples boots, and get on truck tires ,and get moved from farm to farm that way if people aren’t practicing good biosecurity.”
 
He says the virus can be present in wild birds, but they will not spread the illness to domestic flocks.
 
Some of the symptoms include depression and ruffling of feathers, poor appetite, huddling, an unsteady gate, reluctance to rise and diarrhea. Baszler says a definitive diagnosis can be made through post mortem examination, by a veterinarian that specializes in birds, or the WSU veterinary lab.
He says introduction of the illness to an existing flock through new baby chicks from retail outlets is unlikely.

A vaccine to protect chickens or turkeys is available.
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