Backyard Chicken Coops Can Pose Viral Threat

James J. Latham

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March twelve, 2021 (HealthDay Information) — Raising chickens in your yard — a preferred trend for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic — holds pitfalls that can come dwelling to roost in an unwelcome way.

It is really currently very well known that poultry can distribute the salmonella microbes to human handlers. But chickens cooped up in backyards could also be breeding grounds for viruses that pose an even more substantial public health and fitness danger, in accordance to Sonia Hernandez, a professor of wildlife sickness at the University of Georgia, in Athens.

“As a researcher who scientific tests pathogen movement along various teams, I see yard chickens as a probable interface where by pathogens can spill above into wild birds, or vice versa, and even into persons,” Hernandez said in a university information release.

“Proprietors need to find information and facts and health care care for their animals to lower all those pitfalls,” she said.

The biggest danger will come from residence chickens’ probable as a reservoir for mutations in the so-referred to as avian flu (“chicken flu”). These viruses can infect commercially manufactured poultry and devastate all those industries. But people could be instantly affected, way too.


“Traditionally, most remarkably pathogenic avian influenza viruses only affected chickens in commercial functions,” Hernandez said, “but not too long ago, we have witnessed that they can — in scarce cases — go into persons, and there are escalating stories of it impacting yard chickens and wild birds.”

Bird flu outbreaks could distribute to people, something that is on scientists’ minds in a calendar year dominated by a world wide pandemic of coronavirus. Most authorities believe that that SARS-CoV-2 originated from an animal-to-human “spillover” event developing someplace in China.

“Folks need to identify that they have to take some responsibility for their health and fitness and the health and fitness of their animals,” Hernandez said. “Also, we’re residing in a pandemic at the instant because of a spillover event, basic and very simple.”

Hernandez reminded the public that, besides the probable danger from viruses, chickens can very easily distribute salmonella to persons.

“It can come to be especially unsafe if you mix small chickens with small persons — youthful chickens that are shedding a lot of salmonella with small kids that never have the very best cleanliness techniques,” she said.


Most persons who get salmonella infection have signs and symptoms this sort of as diarrhea, fever and abdomen cramps, but about 26,five hundred Us citizens are hospitalized because of to these bacterial infections and 420 die every single calendar year.

Hernandez said health and fitness officers are trying to keep on major of salmonella in yard chickens because they have witnessed an explosion of salmonellosis as keeping chickens has gained popularity.

Hernandez co-wrote a paper with Andrea Ayala, a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., about how ailments can be distribute between chickens and wild birds. Not too long ago published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science, it outlined approaches yard hen proprietors can preserve their flock, wild birds and them selves safe and sound.

The approaches incorporate positioning yard hen feeders where by only chickens can get to them and employing mesh to protect against wild birds from coming into speak to with chickens and their coops. The authors also propose getting rid of wild chicken feeders and removing contaminated water sources, insects and rodents. They said it really is also crucial to retain excellent cleanliness, this sort of as modifying footwear when viewing various flocks and restricting guests.


In the information release, Ayala pointed out that, “as yard chickens come to be a lot more prevalent, the interactions between wild birds and yard chickens are also likely to maximize. Wild birds are captivated to foodstuff, water and shelter, and yard chickens deliver all three.”

Extra information and facts

The U.S. Facilities for Sickness Handle and Avoidance has a lot more on yard poultry.

Resource: University of Georgia, information release, March 2, 2021

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