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General Producer Guide - National Avian On-Farm Biosecurity Standard
Annex C - Producer Self-Quarantine Protocol

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Dr. Victoria Bowes, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries

This protocol presents to the producer a course of action during the suspicion of an infectious disease. This plan is an excellent example of procedure, but other protocols regarding quarantine and infectious disease do exist. It is recommended that all producers are familiar with local or industry-accepted procedures.


Upon the suspicion of an infectious disease in a poultry flock, the following set of guidelines should be followed by the producer. The intention of this protocol is to limit the spread of disease between barns and, most importantly, the spread of disease off-farm.

Situation - There has been an unexplained:

Action plan

1) Obtain an answer

  1. Start your own on-farm investigation. Gather together all relevant documents, including health records of all flocks currently on the farm.
  2. Call your veterinarian with a complete description of the problem, including time of onset, duration, and whether things are getting worse or resolving over time. Offer your suspicions as to your thoughts on what the problem might be.
  3. Review and provide copies of production and mortality records.
  4. Provide representative birds and/or samples for diagnostic investigation:
    1. Call in your veterinarian to do on-farm necropsy and sampling techniques.
    2. Take birds and/or samples to a local poultry veterinarian and/or to the Vet Lab. (Note: there may be special precautions required when moving birds and/or samples off-farm. Consult your veterinarian for proper procedures.)

2) While you wait

  1. Follow the advice of your veterinarian, which may involve interim treatment of the flock, based upon the disease suspected.
  2. Review and list the on-farm traffic, visitors, and bird movements in the previous 10 days. Refer to visitor log.
  3. Immediately adopt enhanced biosecurity protocols. Service unaffected barns first and/or dedicate a specific employee to the affected barn(s). (Note: Enhanced biosecurity protocols should be prepared beforehand, in consultation with your veterinarian.)
  4. Immediately restrict on- and off-farm access by locking gates and requiring phone-ahead pre-arrangements for deliveries and pickups. Suspend all unnecessary traffic.
  5. Inform all family members and employees of the situation. Request confidentiality until diagnosis is confirmed.
  6. Follow strict personal biosecurity procedures for leaving the farm (e.g. non-farm clothing, footwear, and vehicle), especially if meeting with other poultry industry members, even socially.
  7. Postpone scheduled vaccinations until a diagnosis is confirmed.
  8. Postpone movements of any birds on or off-farm.
  9. Dispose of dead or culled birds, using an approved method: on-farm is preferable; composting or incineration is recommended. Treat as infectious material.
  10. If there is a strong suspicion of a highly infectious disease, such as infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT), pox, avian infectious bronchitis (IBV), or avian influenza (AI), based on the visible lesions found at necropsy but before laboratory confirmation, request that the feed or egg truck make your farm the last stop of the day.

3) When a diagnosis is confirmed

  1. If the diagnosis confirms a "reportable" disease, either the CFIA (federal disease) or your producer association (provincial disease), will have been informed at the same time. Follow up. Prepare records and notes for review.
  2. In the case of a "reportable" disease, follow the directions and recommendations of the regulatory agency, but do not hesitate to ask questions.
  3. Modify or initiate treatment of flock as directed by your poultry veterinarian.
  4. Follow enhanced on-farm biosecurity procedures for at least 10 to 14 days following the end of treatment or the resolution of clinical signs.
  5. If they have not already been informed, update your service industry representatives and producer groups of the diagnosis and the measures undertaken for containment.
  6. If practical, inform neighbouring poultry operations.
  7. If appropriate, make provisions for birds moving directly to slaughter, in which case the processor should be informed.
  8. Recommended: Post enhanced biosecurity signs at gates, indicating that an infectious disease has been diagnosed and that access is restricted.

4) Getting back to normal

  1. Enhance the regular on-farm cleaning and disinfection procedures for the affected barns. Extend clean "downtime" as long as possible.
  2. Continue to monitor for disease reoccurrence in the same or subsequent flocks, watch for clinical signs, and submit follow-up samples.
  3. Record the event in the production records with as much detail as possible.
  4. Return to regular biosecurity measures.

Important note:

Pathogenic Newcastle disease (NDV), avian influenza (AI) and Salmonella pullorum and gallinarum are federally reportable diseases. The CFIA has developed disease response plans and strategies for these diseases upon their identification in domestic flocks.

The national immediately notifiable diseases are infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT), avian cholera (pasteurellosis), chlamydiosis (psittacosis, ornithosis), duck hepatitis, avian encephalomyelitis, egg drop syndrome (avian adenovirus), goose parvovirus infection (Derzsy's disease), and turkey rhinotracheitis (avian pneumovirus, swollen head syndrome). The CFIA must be notified if these diseases occur; however, limited action is taken, and only with respect to certification of meat product for export to certain countries.

Specific provinces have a list of provincially notifiable diseases that are of significant economic concern, and there may be specific action response plans to the occurrence at the industry level or mandated by the provincial government. The most common ones are infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) and mycoplasma in breeder birds and turkeys.

All other diseases are "unregulated" and are a private issue between you and your veterinarian. Your confidentiality will be respected, but your cooperation in informing your industry service representatives of a potential infectious disease problem is encouraged and appreciated.

It's the right thing to do!

Further information:

BC Agricultural Research and Development Corporation

BC Agriculture Council

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