A variant of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) – one that is not an immediate threat to humans – is on the move in the United States in both wild bird and domestic poultry flocks. USDA has confirmed the isolation of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in a commercial broiler flock in Kentucky, a backyard flock in Virginia, and a commercial turkey flock in Indiana.
H5 strains of the virus have been isolated recently in a number of wild birds from New Hampshire to South Carolina since mid-January as part of USDA’s routine surveillance on wild birds in the North American flyways. That surveillance is expected to increase based on current findings. The virus, in various forms of pathogenicity, has been previously detected in past years. Transmission to domestic flocks is closely monitored.
Importantly, tools to prevent transmission are available on federal and state websites, including, for example, USDA’s “Defend the Flock Program.”
Biosecurity is the key to preventing the introduction and transmission of this highly contagious disease in backyard and commercial flocks. To minimize continued transmission, between and amongst poultry facilities, enhanced implementation of biosecurity measures is now critical.
As typically seen in prior outbreaks, increased mortality was observed in domestic flocks, but wild birds may not show signs of illness.
Trade embargoes have been initiated by other countries preventing trade from those regions of the US experiencing outbreaks in commercial flocks. Rigorous federal and state eradication efforts are required to contain the virus before embargoes will be lifted.
Poultry owners should expect exposed premises to be quarantined and infected flocks depopulated. Cooperation is expected.
If you own poultry and need information about your duties and obligations if subjected to quarantine and enforcement, please contact us for legal assistance.