Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fowl new virus

An avian virus that is new to Thailand has been found in chicken farms in the central, western, and eastern regions, raising serious concerns about its impact on the country's poultry industry.

The discovery of the virus, Avian Adenovirus Group 1, was revealed yesterday by a team of veterinarians from Kasetsart University's veterinary medicine's diagnostic unit in Nakhon Pathom province.

The unit maintained that the virus, which causes inclusion body hepatitis in poultry, could not be transmitted to humans. Chicken meat and eggs are also safe to eat.

The virus was detected in breeder chicks, aged 3-7 days, which looked drowsy and exhausted. Many of them suffered convulsions and died in 12 hours. The chicks were sent to the unit for examination in April.

The deaths wiped out 10 to 15 per cent of the flocks. In these cases, the disease lasted for a week and the surviving chicks' growth was stunted.

The disease broke out at six chicken farms in the three regions earlier this year. The spread of the virus had been contained at all of them, said Taweesak Songserm, the team leader.

Besides young chickens, the disease can be found in pigeons, geese, turkeys and partridges. Possible disease carriers include rats, flies and cockroaches.

The disease takes three to seven days to incubate and the symptoms become apparent in three weeks. The university urged chicken farmers to keep a watchful eye on their flocks.

Bird flu prevention and surveillance operations can be applied to combat the spread of the virus on chicken farms, the veterinarians said.

The virus causes weak egg shells. Chickens hatching from such weak eggs would become ill in three weeks.

Besides transmission from mother to baby chick via the egg, the disease could be transmitted between chickens via virus-contaminated food and drinks and farm equipment.

A test showed disinfectants in the glutaraldehyde category and effective disposal of infected nest floors could help contain the virus.

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