Poultry owners encouraged to increase biosecurity
The North Dakota veterinarian is encouraging owners to take steps to protect their flocks.
BISMARCK, N.D. – The confirmation of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in 56 hunter-harvested wild waterfowl as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ongoing surveillance program in North Carolina and South Carolina over the past two weeks is a reminder to poultry owners to increase biosecurity, the North Dakota state veterinarian says.
The strain, a Eurasian H5N1 HPAI, is related to the strain of HPAI that Europe and the Middle East have been fighting in recent months and had not been detected in a wild bird in the U.S. since 2016.
“As migration takes place this spring, we encourage producers to focus on biosecurity,” North Dakota State Veterinarian Dr. Ethan Andress said. “Anyone involved with poultry production from backyard birds to a commercial operation should review and understand how the virus could spread to their birds and prevent the exposure before it happens."
“North Dakota had two cases of H5 HPAI in Dickey and LaMoure counties in 2015, affecting well over 100,000 birds combined,”said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “Producers here and across the Midwest learned firsthand the hardship this virus can cause.”
The North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Division offers assistance for surveillance of disease conditions such as avian influenza. Currently, approximately 60 samples per month are submitted to determine the avian influenza status of North Dakota.
Poultry owners should immediately report unusual death loss, a drop in egg production or sick birds to their local veterinarian to decrease the impact HPAI may have on the region. Remember to restrict access to property, keep wild birds away from other birds and practice enhanced biosecurity. Hunters who are also bird owners should dress game birds in the field whenever possible and use dedicated footwear and tools to clean game.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people from HPAI infections to be low despite the disease often being fatal for birds. No human infections with the viruses have been detected in the U.S. and birds from infected flocks do not enter the food system.
The United States has the strongest avian influenza surveillance program in the world, and the USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.