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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza continues to spread

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in fifteen states. The most recent announcement comes from a commercial layer chicken flock in Jefferson County, Wisconsin.

This is Wisconsin’s first confirmed case of HPAI since 2015. APHIS is working closely with state animal health officials in Wisconsin on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises, and birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system. 

As of March 14, USDA has confirmed 34 different cases in 15 different states. The cases are found in the following states and counties: 

  • Connecticut — New London 
  • Delaware — New Castle
  • Illinois — McLean
  • Indiana — Greene, Dubois
  • Iowa — Taylor, Buena Vista, Pottawattamie 
  • Kansas — Franklin
  • Kentucky — Webster, Fulton
  • Maine — Knox, Lincoln 
  • Maryland — Cecil, Queen Anne’s
  • Michigan — Kalamazoo
  • Missouri — Lawrence, Jasper, Bates, Stoddard
  • New York — Suffolk, Dutchess, Ulster
  • South Dakota — Charles Mix
  • Virginia — Fauquier
  • Wisconsin — Jefferson 

Anyone involved with poultry production from the small backyard to the large commercial producer should review their biosecurity activities to assure the health of their birds. APHIS has materials about biosecurity, including videos, checklists, and a toolkit available at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/defend-the-flock-program/dtf-resources/dtf-resources

HPAI viruses are a form of avian influenza that has been found to be highly contagious and often fatal to domestic poultry. It can be spread by contact with infected birds, equipment, or clothing worn by those working with the animals. Signs of HPAI in infected birds include:

  • Sudden death without clinical signs
  • Lack of energy or appetite
  • Decrease in egg production; soft, misshapen eggs
  • Purple discoloration of wattles, comb, and legs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Runny nose, coughing, sneezing
  • Stumbling or falling down
  • Diarrhea

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of all poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F is recommended as a general food safety precaution.

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