If you have questions about Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), please refer to Poultry/Ratites on the Animal Movement tab above or CLICK HERE.
National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) and Avian Health
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture administers the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) program for the non-commercial poultry industry or backyard flocks. The NPIP program was started in the early 1930s to coordinate State programs aimed at eliminating pullorum from commercial poultry. Testing of backyard flocks provides a means of surveillance to protect the breeder industry and comply with regulations within 9 CFR 145. This program has an active participation level among poultry enthusiasts across the state. Whether you are interested in exhibition poultry or interstate movement or sales this program is available to you once you meet the federally mandated regulations. For a summary of the NPIP program requirements, click here.
History of Pullorum Disease
Raising chickens, turkeys, and other types of poultry--whether done for profit or pleasure--entails undertaking the serious responsibility of disease prevention. Probably the greatest single factor which limited the early expansion of the U.S. poultry industry was the disease known as Bacillary White Diarrhea (BWD), caused by Salmonella pullorum. This disease, later called pullorum disease, was rampant in poultry and could cause upwards of 80 percent mortality in baby poultry. Poultrymen recognized the problem, but were unable to manage it until the causative organism was discovered by Dr. Leo Rettger in 1899 and a diagnostic blood test was developed by Dr. F.S. Jones in 1913.
Following these two discoveries, individual poultry men started to test their birds for pullorum disease and eliminate the reactors from the breeding flocks. But the disease was so widespread that a coordinated effort was necessary. A number of States started statewide pullorum testing programs in the early 1920's; and before long, a few breeding flocks were being identified as free of pullorum.
Kentucky has been recognized as being a US Pullorum-Typhoid Clean State since 1984.
As news of the availability of better stock spread and as better transportation of baby poultry became available, largely through the U.S. mail, breeders became overwhelmed with orders for baby poultry from all over the country. It was then more important than ever, that stock be free of pullorum disease and that production efficiencies be improved to even higher levels.
Pullorum disease is an acute or chronic infectious, bacterial disease affecting primarily chickens and turkeys, but most domestic and wild fowl can be infected. The cause is a bacterium named Salmonella pullorum. This organism is primarily egg transmitted, but transmission may occur by other means such as:
- Infected hen to egg, egg to chick, or chick to chick in incubator, chick box, brooder, or house. Survivors become infected breeders (cycle begins again),
- Mechanical transmission (carried around on clothes, shoes or equipment),
- Carrier birds (apparently healthy birds shed the disease organisms),
- Contaminated premises (from previous outbreaks)
Signs of Pullorum Typhoid
- White diarrhea
- Pasted Vent
- Huddle together
- Difficulty breathing
Avian Influenza Fact Sheet and FAQs
What is Avian Influenza (AI)?
- Commonly called "bird flu"
- Contagious viral disease usually only affecting birds
- Poultry can have 2 forms: low pathogenic AI and high pathogenic AI
What are low pathogenic and high pathogenic symptoms?
- Low pathogenic (LPAI)
- Ruffled feathers
- Drop in egg production
High pathogenic (HPAI), e.g. H5N1
- Large number of chickens dying quickly
- Swelling around head, eyelids and neck
- Purple color of wattles, combs and legs
- Lack of energy and appetite
- Big drop in egg production, soft shelled or odd shaped eggs
- Coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge
Does the virus spread easily from birds to humans?
No, the virus does not spread easily from birds to humans.
How do people become infected?
- Direct contact with sick or infected poultry
- Droppings from cages
- Poultry in your house
- Children playing in areas where chickens are or have been
Is it safe to eat poultry?
- Yes, properly cooked poultry is safe.
- USDA approved poultry and eggs are regularly AI tested securing safety to the public.
Will poultry be routinely tested for AI?
- Yes, backyard flocks and commercial poultry will be tested.
What do I do if I have a sudden death of chickens?
- Call the Kentucky Department of Agriculture 502-782-5901
- Your veterinarian, or your local extension agent
- United States Department of Agriculture 866-536-7593
Volunteer Your Flock for Avian Influenza Testing
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Poultry Program is looking for owners of backyard poultry flocks to participate in the Avian Influenza (AI) (also known as "bird flu") Testing Program. There is no charge for the testing. Please email this program to discuss the program in detail.
How will the testing be done?
Volunteers will have 10 of their birds swabbed orally for AI. Testing will occur four times a year.
The KDA will be testing flocks that best meet the following requirements:
- Located close to commercial poultry, waterfowl refuges, or within major wildfowl flyways.
- Multiple poultry species on premises with access to waterfowl or upland game birds.
- Birds that move frequently between swap meets or commingle with other birds.
PROTECT YOUR BIRDS
- Do NOT let visitors into the area where you keep your birds.
- Change food and water daily.
- Clean droppings from cages before disinfecting.
- Wash your hands and clean your shoes with a disinfectant before entering bird area.
- Don't share or borrow garden tools or cages with other bird owners.
- Keep your young and old birds separated and keep birds of different species apart (for example ducks separate from chickens).
- Fence off your bird area.
- Know the signs of disease so you can stop the spread of disease early, don't wait!
- REPORT SICK BIRDS!
Additional Points of Interest:
- Conduct Avian Influenza surveillance at swap meets, small auctions, flea markets and other poultry venues
- Detect and contain avian diseases
- Promote biosecurity through education & outreach visit *Biosecurity for the Birds.
- The poultry industry in Kentucky generated over $1.107 billion for animal agriculture in Kentucky in 2014, thus the importance of maintaining avian health is vital.