Letter Re: Asian Avian Flu

While we all hope and pray that a human to human strain of Avian flu doesn’t happen, do not forget that the major form of transmission of this disease is between fowl.
Water fowl especially. Since chickens don’t fly very far, waterfowl seem to be the primary carriers of this flu from country to country and county to county. What that means is that should it start to spread across your country (wherever that may be) your chicken flock is at risk of getting the stuff themselves unless you plan ahead.

Chicken coops that are enclosed from other birds are a must. The use of 1/4″ hardware cloth instead of typical chicken wire is necessary [to prevent small wild bird from entering your poultry pen.] If you are range feeding your chickens you may have no choice but to pen them up away from wild birds droppings. A vaccine for chickens has been developed but I don’t know how long it will be before being available to the small “hobby” farmer.

A further note on vaccines: It was reported on CNN that a vaccine had been developed against avian flu for humans. What they aren’t telling us is that this vaccine may not even help at all if the avian flu mutates drastically into a form that passes from human to human rapidly. They are hoping that the new vaccine will give just enough immunity to drop the fatality rate from the current 80 percent. A vaccine cannot be made for something that doesn’t yet exist! – B.W.