Previously confinement was only for ostrich chicks (of all ages) at night to
prevent them from getting too wet and developing hypothermia (Mitchell, 2001).
However, the recent outbreaks of avian influenza have triggered a new reason for
ostrich confinement, disease prevention (Huchzermeyer,
Previously confinement was only for ostrich chicks (of
all ages) at night to prevent them from getting too wet and developing
hypothermia (Mitchell, 2001
). However, the recent
outbreaks of avian influenza have triggered a new reason for ostrich
confinement, disease prevention (Huchzermeyer, 2006
By confining ostriches indoors contact is avoided with wild birds, in
particular waterfowl, which are possible sources of infection. An ostrich
enclosure should be well lit, have sufficient space, allow the ostrich to look
outside and facilitate guarding behaviour. It is important to realise that
confining ostriches indoors is stressful for them but it is always preferable to
losing them to avian influenza. Of course the need for confinement is dependent
on the regulations set out by each country. European Union member states:
â€¢ After a suspected or confirmed case of avian influenza; protection/
surveillance zones and risk areas are formed which in turn justify temporary
confinement. Without this exceptional situation, confinement could be classed as
suffering for the ostriches, which is not allowed by European Convention for the
protection and keeping of animals for farming purposes.
â€¢ There have been no cases or risk areas formed where strategies have been
suggested for avoiding confinement; such as, permitting preventive vaccination,
considering the ostrich as a rare or exotic bird or applying a surveillance
programme with serological test samples.
Currently there is no exceptional scientific data on vaccinations in
ostriches and any extrapolation from data on other species should be accompanied
by preliminary studies. There has only been one trial in ostriches using
commercial unspecific vaccines to determine the immune response as measured by
serology (HI-method) and not correlated with protective immunity. It was
concluded from this trial that vaccination did not produce specific immune
protection. So the discussion is now, if the possible effectiveness of
vaccination can be due to a much higher amount of infectious virus required to
produce infection after induced resistance.
Ostrich producers believe that vaccination is of great importance because of
the difficulties involved with indoor confinement, but in the EU vaccination may
result in regional or total suspension of export for ostrich products. In
Northern Spain there has only been one confirmed case of waterfowl (Podiceps
cristatus) with avian influenza that was in 2006. A risk area was formed locally
and preventive vaccination was not applied. Whereas, in Central Spain, Madrid,
forced confinement of birds in backyard farms and parks was implemented.
Fortunately for ostriches, forced confinement was not implemented; serological
samples were taken and tested for avian influenza.
Note: Improve your facilities - see Recommendation Concerning Ratites 1997
, appendix 6; place water and feed troughs
inside to avoid contamination from feeding wild birds, also be on the alert for
signs of infection for example the excretion brilliant green urine.
: In the event of an avian influenza outbreak, can you suggest,
other than those mentioned above, other strategies to avoid ostrich confinement?