Highly pathogenic avian influenza confirmed in Oklahoma flock

Highly pathogenic avian influenza is extremely contagious in poultry. (Journal photo by Lacey Vilhauer.)

On Oct. 16 the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry announced that a mixed poultry flock in Carter County, Oklahoma, had tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza. While HPAI is unlikely to be contracted by humans or other livestock, it is extremely contagious to birds and fatal in almost all cases. Fall bird migration can spread the disease rapidly as wild birds fly south for the winter.  

ODAFF recommends backyard bird owners take precautions to protect their fowl by keep facilities and equipment clean, frequently changing food and water, fencing birds in to prevent contact with wild birds, isolating new or sick birds for the rest of the flock and limiting human visitors.  

Symptoms of HPAI include: coughing and sneezing, difficulty breathing, extreme depression, lack of energy, decrease in feed or water intake, swelling or purple discoloration of head, eyelids, comb, wattle and legs, decrease in egg production, quietness among the flock and sudden, unexplained death. If you suspect a case of HPAI, contact your local county Extension educator, a veterinarian or the Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for testing. Sick birds in Oklahoma should be reported to 405-522-6141. 

Lacey Vilhauer can be reached at 620-227-1871 or [email protected].