Over the last three weeks, two chicken s have died, and now a third is very ill. The first one was one that my sister gave me, and it was a pretty sickly chicken when I got it. Those chickens never blended well with the rest of the flock, and slept outside in the pig pen, so I wasn't surprised when it died. I assumed it died of exposure.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The second chicken died about a week later. It was that weird old red hen that never was quite right; she was always off by herself and appeared to be blind in one eye. I had no idea how old she was, so when she died, I chalked it up to old age.
But this morning, a previously healthy young chicken was sick. Same as the red hen, she just couldn't get up, but she did eat when I put food right in front of her. Now I was getting worried, because there has been a big thing in the news this week that they found avian influenza on a turkey farm just over the border in B.C. The department of Agriculture is setting up a "command post" here in Whatcom County for farmers to bring eggs to be tested.
Considering the fact that I am a nurse, and wanted to be a public health nurse at that, I decided I couldn't ignore this situation. I called my regular vet, and they gave me other numbers to call, even as far as the state capitol in Olympia. The upshot, after speaking to at least four different agencies and entities, is that the local chapter of the state department of agriculture is sending a vet out to my farm to collect the eggs and the chicken, who will hopefully be dead by then. He's on his way, and I'm probably going to be late to pick up my daughter from school.
The eggs can be tested for AI, and the chicken will be subjected to a necropsy. The chances that this is bird flu are miniscule. It's much more likely to be salmonella or coccidia (both bacterial diseases that can be treated easily). Even if it were to be bird flu, it would not likely be a dangerous type. They've already typed the Canadian strain and it's not transmissible to humans.
But all my chickens would have to be killed.