Avian influenza threatens U.S. flocks


COLUMBUS – Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been detected in in poultry flocks in states around Ohio, including Kentucky, Indiana, Virginia, New York, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Iowa, and Connecticut. This information is current as of March 2.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture reports that “while no detections have been found in our state, it is important to intensify biosecurity and best management practices to prevent this disease in our poultry flocks. Avian Influenza can be a devastating disease for all poultry owners. Now is the time to review your biosecurity measures on your farm and implement Enhanced Biosecurity steps to protect your flocks.”

The greatest threat from this influenza is to flocks. This viral infection among birds rarely affects humans, with fewer than 1,000 cases per year in the U.S. It is transmitted through direct contact with an infected bird. Symptoms in humans present similar to normal flu such as runny nose, sore throat and fever. It can be treated with anti-viral medications in humans, according to Focus Medica.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United States has the strongest avian influenza surveillance program in the world. Its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) collects and tests large numbers of samples from wild birds in the North American flyways. It is not uncommon to detect avian influenza in wild birds, as avian influenza viruses circulate freely in those populations without the birds appearing sick. In addition to monitoring for avian influenza in wild bird populations, APHIS monitors for the virus in commercial and backyard birds.

With the recent detections of the Eurasian H5 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild birds and domestic poultry in the United States, bird owners should review their biosecurity practices and stay vigilant to protect poultry and pet birds from this disease. APHIS is working closely with state partners on surveillance, reporting, and control efforts.

APHIS will continue to announce the first case of HPAI in commercial and backyard flocks detected in a state but will not announce subsequent detections in the state. All cases in commercial and backyard flocks will be listed on the APHIS website.

The following guidelines were issued via the Ohio Department of Agriculture for those in contact with birds or flocks:

1. Prevent contact with wild birds and waterfowl. Keep birds indoors when possible. Adding simple wildlife management practices around your farm will help prevent HPAI in your flock. Learn more Biosecurity tips through Wildlife Management Practices Here: hpaifactsheet_wildlife-biosecurity.pdf (usda.gov).

2. Keep visitors to a minimum. Only allow those people who take care of your poultry to come in contact with your birds, this includes family and friends. Keep track of everyone who is on your property at all times. Make sure everyone who has contact with your flock follows biosecurity principles.

3. Wash your hands before and after coming in contact with live poultry. In addition to potentially spreading disease from farm to farm or bird to bird, you can also spread germs such as Salmonella that can impact human health. Wash with soap and water (always your first choice). If using a hand sanitizer, first remove manure, feathers, and other materials from your hands because disinfectants will not penetrate organic matter or caked-on dirt.

4. Provide disposable boot covers (preferred) and/or disinfectant footbaths for anyone having contact with your flock. If using a footbath, be sure to remove all droppings, mud or debris from boots and shoes using a long-handled scrub brush before stepping into the disinfectant footbath, and always keep it clean.

5. Establish a rodent and pest control program. Deliver, store, and maintain feed, feed ingredients, bedding and litter in a manner that limits exposure to and contamination from wild birds, rodents, insects and other animals.

6. Use drinking water sourced from a contained supply (such as a well or municipal system). Do not use surface water for drinking or cleaning.

7. Clean and disinfect tools or equipment before moving them to a new poultry facility. Before allowing service vehicles, trucks, tractors, or tools and equipment—including egg flats and cases that have come in contact with birds or their droppings—to exit the property, make sure they are cleaned and disinfected to prevent contaminated equipment from transporting disease. Do not move or reuse items that cannot be cleaned and disinfected—such as cardboard egg flats.

8. Look for signs of illness. Monitor egg production and death loss, discoloration and/or swelling of legs, wattles and combs, labored breathing, reduced feed or water consumption.

9. Report sick birds: Report unusual signs of disease or unexpected deaths to OPA (614) 882-6111 or the Ohio Department of Agriculture main line at (614) 728-6220 or the after-hours line at (888) 456-3405.

10. Other Important Numbers: Sick bird hotline: (866) 536-7593 and USDA APHIS VS Ohio: (614) 856-4735

For more information on biosecurity practices, visit USDA’s Defend the Flock Resource Center (USDA APHIS | Defend the Flock – Resource Center).

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been detected in poultry flocks in states around Ohio.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2022/03/web1_birds.jpgHighly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been detected in poultry flocks in states around Ohio. Photo courtesy of Ohio Department of Agriculture
Poultry owners urged to be vigilant

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