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Backyard Biohazard: Why Keeping Chooks Could Be Bad For Your Health

Not enough is being done to prevent the risk of avian flu and other diseases coming into Aussie homes.

That's according to Australian Eggs, which is warning that your backyard chooks can easily go from being a health source of eggs to making you very sick. 

“People need to realise that once you’re a suburban ‘egg farmer’, there are important biosecurity risks to protect against," said Rowan McMonnies, the Managing Director of Australian Eggs.

Chickens and eggs can transfer sickness to people. (Image AAP)

One of the main risks is a wild disease-carrying animal coming into contact with one of your chickens.

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Aussie chook owners have been advised to keep a close eye on the health of their birds, and look out for symptoms such as diarrhea, coughing and swollen eyes.

“Strains of avian influenza can occur naturally in populations of wild birds and if a wild duck comes into contact with a domestic hen the virus can be transferred," McMonnies said.

A child chases a chicken in the yard (Image AAP)

If the bird is showing signs of illness, it's best advised to quarantine the animal as best you can until a vet figures out what's wrong.

"Diseases spread quickly and widely and potential transfer from backyard to commercial flocks can put food security for the broader community at risk," McMonnies said.

Luckily, according to the Australian Department of Health, there are no current cases of humans having contracted avian flu in Australia.

"Actually catching it from your backyard chickens is almost impossible," Professor Robert Booy of Sydney University told 10 daily.

Feature Image: AAP

Contact the author mgay@networkten.com.au