Debora's Question: I have been reading quite a lot about the bird flu recently and I am sure you have, as well. I know there is a risk it may become a pandemic situation, what with the migratory birds spreading the virus wherever they go.
I have some questions for you. Is there a way we can protect our little flock from the risk? How do we know if our flock has been infected (aside from finding dead birds). Is there a list of symptoms to look for in our chickens (and ducks)?  I have done some online searching to inform myself, but can't find anything but symptoms in humans who have been infected. I am not in a panic, I just would like to be prepared for what may happen.

Byron Tumlinson's Answer:


I got my first visit from the bi-county animal health inspector yesterday.  I ask him some of these same questions that you have ask me, and was told to look for the chickens being sort of droopy all day long.  Also some will have a discharge from their eyes.  He said if I

started to notice a large number of chickens dying in just a few days, to notify his office right away.
He also told me that the strain of bird flu in the U.S. is not the same as the one in Asia which is designated as H5N1.  The reason for his visit was to inform me of the program they have to offer, and to give me information about bird flu. 
He said so far they have not recorded any cases in the United States.  He also said the most likely state to be first effected would be Alaska due to their proximity to Russia.  There is a flight pattern of birds from Russia to Alaska, and vise versa.
I am keeping a close eye on my birds, and will certainly notify the agent of any problems I am concerned about.
There is a program you can register for that will let you know the condition of any birds you plan on buying.  It is a volunteer program at this time.  It is set up to follow the sale of all birds that are registered in the program. 
If anyone is really concerned about their birds, or would like more information, call your county extension agent and ask them to put you in touch with your local animal health inspector.  In Texas, they work several counties, so it may be a while before they can get around to your request.
They are very helpful and can give you a lot of very good information.