Number of IA cases still on rise
DOVER, Del. — Prior to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza being confirmed in a commercial poultry flock in Delaware on Feb. 23, multiple cases of of Eurasian H5 HPAI were detected in wild birds in Delaware on Feb. 16, as the bird flu continues to spread in the United States.
These findings were not unexpected, as wild birds can be infected with HPAI but show no signs of illness.
Eight other states in the Atlantic Flyway have found HPAI this year in wild birds, with it believed to be widespread in migratory waterfowl on Feb. 19.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed HPAI in non-commercial backyard flocks in Maine and New York.
These findings have prompted state and federal officials and the area poultry industry to call for chicken growers and industry personnel to redouble their biosecurity efforts to keep the disease out of backyard and commercial poultry flocks.
Poultry owners or those working within the poultry industry should refer to guidance issued by the Delaware Department of Agriculture regarding increased biosecurity protocols.
• No person without a direct role in the poultry operation (e.g., feed trucks, fuel deliveries, service people ) should visit poultry farms for the foreseeable future. Local, county, and state governments, as well as allied industries, should cease non-essential visits to poultry farms.
• Commercial and backyard flock owners should review their biosecurity plans to reduce the transmission of avian influenza to their birds. Virus transmission can occur through foot and vehicular traffic; secretions from birds’ mouths, nostrils, eyes, excrement; contact with infected droppings; movement of infected birds; and contaminated clothing and equipment. For tips on improving biosecurity, visit https://bit.ly/3Bh6T7p
• All keepers of domesticated birds should prevent contact between their animals and areas where wild birds have access.
• Report sick poultry or unusual deaths in poultry flocks to the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health at (302) 698-4500, or after hours for a disease emergency involving poultry, call 302-233-1480.
For additional information, visit de.gov/poultry.
To report groups of dead or sick waterfowl, shorebirds, gulls, hawks or owls, contact the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Section Wildlife Disease Program at 302-735-3600.
APHIS on Feb. 16 confirmed the Eurasian H5 strain of HPAI in eight wild ducks and a Canada goose in Kent County and one red-shouldered hawk in New Castle County.
APHIS is working with federal and state partners, including the Delaware departments of agriculture and natural resources and environmental control on additional avian influenza surveillance and testing.
All the ducks found to have HPAI — including five northern shovelers, one American wigeon, one black duck and a gadwall — were harvested by hunters and submitted to APHIS for sampling.
The Canada goose was a mortality submitted for testing, while the red-shouldered hawk was tested for HPAI after it had been taken to Tri-State Bird Rescue for rehabilitation.
Wild free-flying ducks, geese and shorebirds can carry the disease to new areas when migrating, as can raptors such as hawks and owls.
While wild birds often can carry the AI viruses without becoming sick, AI in poultry is contagious and can make some domesticated birds very sick and even cause death.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to the general public from HPAI H5 infections to be low. No human infections with Eurasian H5 viruses have occurred in the United States.
As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F will kill bacteria and viruses, including HPAI.