HPAI detected in Midwest: 4 tips for protecting flocks

Colorado poultry operations should prepare by increasing biosecurity

In the first confirmed case since 2020, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, virus in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana on Feb. 8. Since then, HPAI has been detected in commercial poultry in Kentucky and backyard birds in Virginia. HPAI has also been detected in wild birds across many eastern and southeastern states as part of USDA’s routine surveillance program. There are currently no cases of HPAI in Colorado.

“Although Colorado has not had a case of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza so far this year, the fact that it has been confirmed in Eastern and Midwest states means Colorado poultry producers and bird owners must increase biosecurity measures in their own operations,” said Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Maggie Baldwin. “Flock owners should review their biosecurity plans and implement practices such as limiting introduction of new birds into their flocks and limiting exposure of their birds to wild birds and other poultry flocks. People, equipment, vehicles, and other fomites can also serve as a mechanism for transmission of disease and need to be addressed in biosecurity plans.”

HPAI is a highly contagious and fatal foreign animal disease in domestic poultry. Wild birds serve as a reservoir for influenza viruses and can spread these viruses to poultry. Certain strains of avian influenza are also zoonotic. USDA has published all detections of HPAI in poultry and wild birds on the APHIS website. Learn more about avian influenza and how to report unusual bird deaths on the CDA website at ag.colorado.gov/animals/livestock-health/avian-influenza.

What flock owners can do

1. Increase biosecurity: It is extremely important for poultry owners to increase biosecurity measures to protect their birds from HPAI. The USDA Defend the Flock website has helpful resources for keeping poultry healthy in any operation. Commercial poultry producers can use this toolkit to assess their biosecurity practices and preparedness.

2. Monitor flocks: Monitor your flock for clinical signs of HPAI, including monitoring production parameters (feed and water consumption, egg production) and increased morbidity and mortality. Any changes in production parameters that could indicate HPAI should be reported.

3. Report disease: It is important for veterinarians and producers to report any suspicious disease events in poultry flocks to the State Veterinarian’s office at 303-869-9130. If it is after hours, the voicemail message will indicate which veterinarian is on call.

If you have sick birds or birds that have died from unknown causes, help is available at the Colorado Avian Health Call Line at CSU, their number is 970-297-4008.

4. Enroll in Secure Food Supply. The Colorado Department of Agriculture also strongly encourages poultry producers to enroll as a Secure Food Supply participant through CDA or your state’s department of agriculture. The most important component of ensuring your continuity of business in the face of a HPAI outbreak is to enroll in SFS and have a biosecurity plan in place.

If you would like more information on SFS, please reach out to [email protected] or 303-263-2407.