Although keeping backyard poultry can be enjoyable, owners should be aware that healthy birds can sometimes carry harmful germs that make people sick. Public health concerns linked to backyard poultry include infection caused by Salmonella spp., E. coli, Campylobacter spp., and avian influenza. These germs can cause a variety of illnesses in people, ranging from minor skin infections to serious illnesses that can cause death. High-risk individuals include children less than 5 years of age, adults over 65 years of age, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems. Whether the owner is building their very first coop or is a seasoned backyard poultry owner, this client handout provide tips on simple things that can be done to stay healthy.
Backyard or hobby flocks consist of meat and game birds; or ornamental or show birds. This review article, co-authored by poultry veterinarian, Teresa Morishita, offers tips on the basic clinical approach to backyard poultry as well as differential diagnosis lists for common clinical problems. Conditions commonly encountered in backyard chickens and turkeys often include endoparasites, like Eimeria spp., pasteurellosis or fowl cholera, mycoplasmosis, staphylococcosis, and colibacillosis. Diseases important for public health concerns, such as avian influenza and Newcastle disease, are also discussed.