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An Overview Of Health Risks Associated with Backyard Poultry

By Tom Seest

Are Backyard Chickens a Health Risk?

Chickens are often viewed as safe pets, but they do carry a few risks. Live backyard poultry has been linked to outbreaks of Salmonella, a serious bacteria that can cause serious illness. These outbreaks have affected people across the country and are especially dangerous for young children. In fact, young children are more likely to contract the disease than adults, according to the CDC.

This photo was taken by Alex Rusin and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/roosters-and-hens-on-a-farm-in-winter-10727820/.
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Can Backyard Chickens Get Avian Influenza?

Avian influenza is a serious disease that can affect poultry flocks. It can be fatal, affecting up to 100 percent of a flock in a single outbreak. However, the majority of cases of avian influenza in the United States are mild. It is important to understand the differences between high and low-pathogenic influenza viruses and to take appropriate precautions when keeping backyard chickens.
Colorado’s Department of Agriculture’s statewide avian influenza program monitors the occurrence of disease outbreaks and works to prevent the spread of disease. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and responds quickly when outbreaks are reported. The department routinely tests thousands of commercial poultry and backyard flocks every year. In addition, backyard flocks are tested at public events to monitor for the virus.
The disease is contagious and can be spread from bird to human by direct contact. Infection can also be transmitted through contact with infected poultry or equipment.

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Can Backyard Chickens Get Mycoplasmosis?

Mycoplasmasis in backyard chicken flocks is a serious condition caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma gallisepticum. It is a common disease in poultry and can also affect turkeys. Symptoms of mycoplasma infection include nasal congestion, sneezing, and coughing. These symptoms are often persistent. The symptoms of this disease are caused by the presence of the bacteria in the lungs and sinuses of chickens. Mycoplasmasis is often transmitted by contaminated poultry eggs.
Although antibiotics may help alleviate the symptoms of mycoplasma infection, these drugs will not eliminate the bacteria from the chicken. Probiotics, minerals, and vitamins are often the best treatments for chickens with this condition. Antibiotics can also spread the disease to other chickens in the flock.
Symptoms of mycoplasmasis vary from one species to another. It’s important to isolate sick chickens from the rest of the flock and disinfect their coops and equipment. A blood test can confirm the diagnosis. If you suspect your chickens are infected, you should keep your flock separated from other chickens for at least two weeks to ensure their health.
The most common chicken mycoplasmal disease is Mycoplasma gallisepticum. It is a slow-spreading disease and infected chickens may not show overt symptoms. However, complicating factors, such as environmental stressors, nutritional deficiencies, or other infections, can lower their immune system and cause overt symptoms. This condition can significantly affect the survival and hatchability of baby chicks.

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Can Backyard Chickens Get Marek’s Disease?

Marek’s disease is a common disease found in chickens. While there is no vaccine to protect against this condition, there are measures you can take to prevent the disease from spreading. The first step is to check the chickens for the symptoms of the disease. These symptoms include droopy legs, discolored combs, and decreased appetite. In severe cases, euthanasia may be necessary.
Marek’s Disease is caused by the chicken herpes virus. Once a chicken contracts this disease, it is permanently infected. This disease can affect as many as 50% of a flock. Some breeds are more susceptible to the disease than others. Silkies and leghorns are especially susceptible. A few infected birds can cause the death of an entire flock.
This disease is caused by a virus that affects the chickens’ central nervous system. It can cause paralysis, and tumors can form on the chickens‘ internal organs. Unlike herpes viruses, however, chickens cannot spread them to humans.

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Can Backyard Chickens Get Campylobacter?

Recent studies show that the connection between backyard chickens and Campylobacter infection in children is real. It’s not clear if the exposure of children to infected poultry is the main route of infection, but it’s still worth keeping in mind. Regardless of the link, implementing proper biosecurity measures can help prevent the transmission of the bacteria. Public awareness can also help reduce the spread of this zoonotic disease.
The bacterial pathogen is often transmitted by fomites, insects, and contaminated feed or water. It can also spread to people caring for the poultry. People can contract Campylobacter by handling infected poultry or by placing objects in their mouths. This is especially dangerous for young children whose immune systems are still developing.
Researchers found that backyard chickens have high rates of C. jejuni, which is much more common than C. coli in poultry. The researchers also found that chicken giblets had a much higher infection rate than other poultry organs. The results suggest that backyard chickens pose a health risk to children and should be avoided.

This photo was taken by Ольга Бочкарева and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/roosters-on-green-grass-field-5873880/.
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Can Backyard Chickens Get Coccidiosis?

Coccidiosis is a parasitic infection caused by a single-cell parasite called coccidia. It lives inside a chicken’s gut wall and is shed in the chicken’s feces. Coccidia multiplies in this environment and spread to new hosts through contact with infected feces or contaminated water. Symptoms begin to appear after three days and the chicken will ultimately die from blood loss.
Although there is no cure for coccidiosis in chickens, there are some simple preventive measures you can take to minimize the risk of it. First, keep bedding, water, and food clean. You can also use preventative tonics that are effective at keeping the worms at bay. Preventative tonics can help your chickens build natural immunity against the parasite. Second, keep the pens clean and disinfected. Infected feed sacks and boots can spread the infection. Third, keep your chickens away from rodents and insects.
If your chickens are exhibiting the symptoms of coccidiosis, it is important to consult with a veterinarian. The disease can be mild to severe. Once infected, chickens are more prone to contracting other diseases and parasites. A veterinarian can determine if your hens have coccidiosis by looking at oocysts under a microscope and checking the droppings. In addition, a veterinarian can perform a fecal flotation to diagnose coccidiosis.

This photo was taken by Ralph and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/chickens-on-grass-field-7323135/.
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Can Backyard Chickens Get Salmonella?

The good news is that there are a few steps you can take to reduce the risk of Salmonella infection in backyard chickens. First, keep nesting boxes clean and free from litter. Also, make sure that the litter is changed regularly. You also need to collect your chickens’ eggs regularly. You should separate the clean eggs from the dirty ones, discarding any cracked or broken ones. Finally, avoid giving your chickens expired meat or rotten food.
Salmonella is one of the most common bacteria in chickens, and it has been linked to a number of illnesses. While outbreaks typically occur at major poultry operations, backyard chickens are also known to be a source of the bacteria. In fact, in five years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 219 outbreaks of salmonella in backyard chickens in the United States. Among those outbreaks, 12 percent of the sick were hospitalized, and one person died due to the illness.
People who ingest the bacteria usually develop diarrhea within six to seven days of exposure. However, some individuals may develop severe illnesses. It is important to see a doctor since symptoms of salmonella infection can mimic other illnesses.

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