USDA Confirms Highly Pathogenic H5N2 Avian Influenza
These headlines have been a bit of concern for some of our clients with and without poultry flocks, so we thought we would share a bit more information…
WASHINGTON, April 7, 2015 — The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in a second commercial turkey flock in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota. This is the eighth confirmation in a commercial flock in Minnesota. No human infections with the virus have been detected at this time.
What Is Avian Influenza?
Avian influenza (AI) viruses can infect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese and guinea fowl, as well as a wide variety of other birds. Migratory waterfowl have proved to be a natural reservoir for the less infectious strains of the disease known as low pathogenicity avian influenza. AI viruses can be classified into low pathogenicity (LPAI) and high pathogenicity (HPAI) based on the severity of the illness they cause. HPAI is an extremely infectious and fatal form of the disease that, once established, can spread rapidly from flock to flock. However, some LPAI virus strains are capable of mutating under field conditions into HPAI viruses.The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) works to keep HPAI from becoming established in the U.S. poultry population.
What Are the Signs?
The clinical signs of birds affected with all forms of AI may show one or more of the following: Sudden death without clinical signs; Lack of energy and appetite; Decreased egg production; Soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks; Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, and legs; Nasal discharge; Coughing, sneezing; Lack of coordination; and Diarrhea. Note: Many birds with LPAI may not show any signs of disease.
How Is AI Spread?
Exposure of poultry to migratory waterfowl and the international movement of poultry, poultry equipment, and people pose risks for introducing AI into U.S. poultry. Once introduced, the disease can be spread from bird to bird by direct contact. AI viruses can also be spread by manure, equipment, vehicles, egg flats, crates, and people whose clothing or shoes have come in contact with the virus. AI viruses can remain viable at moderate temperatures for long periods in the environment and can survive indefinitely in frozen material.
These virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.
All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through USDA.
Minnesota Board of Animal Health
625 Robert Street North
Saint Paul, MN 55155
USDA toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593
Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/birdbiosecurity/
Samples for official AI testing must be collected by individuals trained and certified as authorized poultry testing agents. Once samples are collected, there are two diagnostic laboratories in Minnesota that are approved for testing samples for influenza. For detailed information on sample submission and testing for AI, contact:
Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory
Phone: (320) 231-5170
University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
Phone: (800) 605-8787