Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Confirmed In Wild & Domestic Birds In North Dakota

All poultry owners should practice good biosecurity to protect their flock from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was confirmed in a wild snow goose in North Dakota on March 24 and in a non-commercial, backyard chicken flock in Kidder County. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department sampled a wild bird mortality in Burleigh County that was confirmed positive by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, IA. Samples from the North Dakota flock were tested at the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, IA.

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) webpage, "Avian influenza is caused by influenza Type A virus (influenza A). Avian influenza viruses are classified as either "low pathogenic" or "highly pathogenic" based on their genetic features and the severity of the disease they cause in poultry."

"With HPAI being confirmed in migratory birds in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, biosecurity becomes an essential defense for your flock against this virus," says Mary Keena, NDSU Extension livestock environmental management specialist.

Keena stated that consistent biosecurity is key. Pay special attention to the line of separation, or the line between your clean flock and the "dirty" environment.

- Carefully follow safe entry and exit procedures into your flock's clean area.

- Shower, change clothes, and clean and disinfect footwear before entering your poultry housing areas.

- Reduce the attractiveness for wild birds to stop at your place by cleaning up litter and spilled feed around poultry housing areas.

- If you have free range guinea fowl and waterfowl, consider bringing them into coops or flight pens under nets to prevent interaction of domesticated poultry with wild birds and their droppings.

- It is best to restrict visitors from interacting with your birds at this time.

- Backyard flock owners should practice strict biosecurity, including preventing birds from exposure and/or co-mingling with wild birds and other types of poultry.

"Any unexplained increase in mortality, decreased water consumption, decreased egg production, respiratory issues, purple or dry combs or neurologic (twisted necks or quiet) signs of disease should be investigated," says Miranda Meehan, NDSU Extension livestock environmental stewardship specialist. "Make sure the people who work with your birds daily (either you or your workers) know what to look for. If you find multiple sick or dead birds in your flock and you cannot explain their death, contact your veterinarian, even if all other birds look fine."

Keena added, report sick or deceased domestic birds to your local veterinarian. If you do not have a local veterinarian for your flock, contact the North Dakota State Veterinarian's office at 701-328-2655 or report through the USDA's toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

Do not touch sick or dead wildlife, and keep them away from domestic poultry. Sick or dead wild birds should be reported through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's online form at https://gf.nd.gov/wildlife/diseases/mortality-report.

"It is best not to handle sick or deceased birds. If you must, minimize direct contact by using proper personal protective equipment (PPE)," says Meehan.

Wear gloves and wash your hands with soap and water after touching birds and any contaminated surfaces. If available, wear respiratory protection such as a medical facemask. Wear clean clothes when coming into contact with healthy domestic birds. Discard the gloves and facemask, and then wash your hands with soap and water when you leave the area. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this strain of avian influenza is a low risk to the public. While the transmission rate from animals to humans is low, it is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be shared between species.

Positive domestic cases are handled by APHIS and its partners. They will evaluate disposal methods case by case based on a variety of factors, including the size of the flock, space requirements, associated costs, local conditions and applicable laws/regulations.

Poultry testing positive for HPAI are prohibited by law from entering the marketplace. Poultry and poultry products are safe to eat, and proper handling and cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit is always advised.

To receive updates on HPAI in your area, please complete this voluntary NDSU Extension survey https://bit.ly/3IvXLhj.


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