Study examines avian flu risk factors

A recent study has revealed that avian flu still presents a global threat and biosecurity remains a crucial factor in the prevention of it spreading further.

An investigation was carried out by scientists at The University of Vechta looking at over 343 layer farms in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria.

Barbara Grabkowsky (pictured), who conducted research into the study, said a number of risk factors were found to be key to its spread.

The study involved a questionnaire with 68 general questions about feed, employees, pest control and disease prevention. It was answered by poultry producers in the three countries.

Producers were also asked to keep a logbook to note all contact taking place at the farm, she said.

Risk factors showed between 35-62% of the farms investigated stored litter in a away that was open for contamination from the faeces of wild birds or rodents.

And while up to 30% of farms shared machinery 25-50% did not disinfect the machinery before they returned it, said Ms Grabkowsky.

She added that 17-28% did not wash their hands before entering poultry houses and that only a small share of the farms had a disease prevention plan.

The study was conducted over small farms with fewer than 10,000 birds, medium-sized farms with 10,000-50,000 birds and large farms with more than 50,000 birds.