Chicken Respiratory Surveillance Research

Sampling guidance for vets & information for owners

About the research

Respiratory diseases are common backyard chickens and there are many causes, viral, bacterial and parasitic. Birds with viral infections often require intensive nursing to recover and may or may not develop secondary infections. Birds with bacterial infections often require antibiotics if their infection is making then severely unwell. Parasitic infections, e.g. gapeworm, are easily treated with poultry wormers.

 

This study aims to increase the surveillance in backyard and pet chickens for respiratory pathogens. This information will help us better understand the prevalence of different pathogens in the UK pet and backyard chicken population. It will also assist vets in deciding on treatment plans, thus reducing antibiotic usage and resistance.

 

FREE respiratory disease testing is offered to all pet and backyard with birds showing respiratory signs. Clients will still have to cover the costs incurred by their vet which may include sampling, submission and interpretation fees.

Tests include: bacterial respiratory pathogens including Avibacterium paragallinarum (Infectious coryza), avian metapneumovirus & avian infectious bronchitis virus. Submitted samples will be kept for future surveillance testing for other respiratory pathogens.

This study is run by the University of Surrey, Surrey Poultry Vet, APHA (Animal Plant Health Agency), & The University of Liverpool and supported by BVPA (British Veterinary Poultry Association).

Inclusion criteria

Pet or backyard chickens 10-weeks and older with one or more of these signs:

Cough, sneeze, snick,

Rales, crackles

Ocular or nasal discharge

Wheezing

Swollen sinuses or periocular swelling suggestive of coryza

Birds may present with inappetence, unilateral or bilateral lesions.

Exclusion criteria

Commercial flocks, or birds with anorexia, diarrhoea, pyrexia,

Birds younger than 10-weeks. Samples for pre- or post-sale screening

Cases in which notifiable disease is suspected (these cases have to be dealt with in the usual way), Pecking or mating related cellulitis or ulceration.

How to participate?

Book an appointment with your local veterinary surgeon. If they have not heard of this research and the free testing then please refer them to this website or to email surreypoultryvet@gmail.com for more information.

Consent to participate

Consent for your samples to be used for surveillance purposes must be given by leaving the "opt out" box unchecked on the sample submission form .

Samples & equipment required

Testing MUST be performed by a veterinary surgeon.

Two samples must be submitted from each bird along with a photograph (see below) of the bird's head clearly showing any facial swelling or discharge.

Please take samples Monday - Wednesday and post immediately as bacteriology samples need to be processed without delay in order to ensure bacterial survival.

Samples taken on Thursday should be posted for next day delivery with URGENT marked on the envelope.

Samples must be taken using a transport swab e.g. charcoal, to aid Avibacterium paragallinarum survival.

Mycoplasma testing is available through The University of Liverpool Veterinary Diagnostic Microbiology Service at £25 per sample.

Access at https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/vetpathology/diagnostic/mycoplasma/

See the choanal cleft circled in blue. The larynx is visible at the base of the tongue. Please do NOT attempt to insert the swab into the trachea.

Sterile oropharyngeal swab
  1. Select a charcoal transport media swab.

  2. Restrain the bird in upright position – hold the bird into your body so it won’t flap. 

  3. Gently extend the head and open the beak.

  4. Holding the end of the swab, gently insert the tip of the swab into the mouth. 

  5. For an oropharyngeal sample, roll the swab around the mouth to pick up as much material as possible. It is easier to insert the swab into the lateral aspect of the beak, rather than at the beak tip.

  6. For a choanal cleft sample, gently roll the swab tip along the opening to the choanal cleft to pick up mucus. Be aware that bird may try and sneeze.

  7. Remove & sheath and label the swab.

Sterile choanal cleft swab
  1. Select a charcoal transport media swab.

  2. Restrain the bird in upright position – hold the bird into your body so it won’t flap. 

  3. Gently extend the head and open the beak.

  4. Holding the end of the swab, gently insert the tip of the swab into the mouth. 

  5. For a choanal cleft sample, gently roll the swab tip along the opening to the choanal cleft to pick up mucus. Be aware that bird may try and sneeze.

  6. Remove & sheath and label the swab.

Sample submission

Submission can be either using the free ADAS testing service, which provides free postage for all samples submitted online, or manually using the APHA Avian Surveillance form which will incur postage costs. The project code and history below MUST be included to qualify for the free testing.

ADTS (Animal Disease Testing Service)https://www.animal-disease-testing.service.gov.uk/login

FREEPOST

Please copy the following clinical history and presenting information into the "written clinical history" box shown below.

Project code ED1300/URD

Please perform a TICK STREAK along with Test TC0101

CC all reports to RL Lasswade

Brief history/Additional history

Please fill in or delete as appropriate

 

Clinical signs started on_______________

Cough YES/NO     Sneeze YES/NO

Rales YES/NO        Lung crackles YES/NO

Swollen sinus/ocular selling YES/NO

Comb/wattles swollen YES/NO

Ocular discharge: none – clear – cloudy – caseous

Nasal discharge: none – clear – cloudy – caseous

Antibiotic treatment?­­­   YES/NO. If yes then when _______

Wormed?                    YES/NO. If yes then when _______

Vaccination? YES/NO. If yes then what for?

Postcode of animal __________

PHOTO emailed YES/NO

Avian surveillance submission form

Please fill in the clinical history in the relevant section. It has been pre-populated with the information above.

Postage

APHA Veterinary Investigation Centre, Merrythought, Calthwaite, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 9RR

or 

APHA Veterinary Investigation Centre, Staplake Mount, Starcross, Exeter, EX6 8PE

Photograph submission

A photograph of the bird's head, clearly showing any facial swelling or discharge, must be sent to Henrietta Kodilinye-Sims h.kodilinye-sims@surrey.ac.uk at the University of Surrey, School of Veterinary Medicine using the link below

Include the following in the email body:

  • The ADTS sample submission number (ideally)

or​

  • The bird's postcode

e.g. 21-B0266-10-20

Results

Results will be returned online via the ADTS or as requested in the avian submission form.

Submission deadline

We aim for the majority of samples to be received by March 31st 2021.

Contact email address: surreypoultryvet@gmail.com

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Surrey Poultry Vet is a registered veterinary practice (RCVS), under the registered company Butler Physiotherapy Ltd, 11893457