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Avian Influenza Preparedness

April 29, 2022: USDA CONFIRMS HIGHLY PATHOGENIC AVIAN INFLUENZA IN VERMONT

Fall migration is underway and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is increasing throughout the United States. Vermont Animal Health Officials recommend against competitions, exhibitions, shows, swaps or other in-person gatherings or commingling events of domestic fowl or poultry. Should these events choose to occur, please exercise caution and good biosecurity, and visit our Fairs, Shows, and Exhibition site for more information.

Contact Information

Risk to Humans

It is important to note that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people from this HPAI infection to be low. Two human cases of this HPAI virus have been detected, one in the United States and one internationally. Please consult the CDC and the Vermont Department of Health for further information. Influenza in poultry does not constitute a food safety risk.

How HPIA is Spread

The HPAI H5 virus is most commonly spread to domestic poultry by infected waterfowl, through direct contact or contact with their droppings.  While waterfowl can carry the disease without becoming sick, the HPAI H5 virus is generally fatal for domestic poultry.

Risk Factors

Risk Factors Include:

  • Poultry housed outside
  • Ponds or other water fowl attractants on the farm
  • Piles of debris located close to poultry areas
  • Introduction of poultry from other farms without a quarantine period
  • Lack of personal protective equipment such as dedicated coveralls and boots
  • Sharing of equipment between farms.

Preventative Measures

All poultry owners, regardless of size and business structure, should adhere to the following disease preventative measures:

  • Obtain a federal premises identification number by calling the State Veterinarian’s Office at (802) 828-2421. A unique farm identifier will aid regulatory officials in providing information to owners pre-outbreak and assisting owners with disease control and business continuity during a disease response.
  • Keep poultry away from wild birds, particularly waterfowl and shorebirds, and remove wild bird attractants from poultry housing areas.
  • If poultry are housed indoors, don’t let wild birds (or their fecal material) into barns.
  • Clean and disinfect all equipment prior to entry into a barn or poultry housing area.
  • Use barn-specific boots and coveralls, and consider using boot baths/washes.
  • Do not bring disease home with you -if you exhibit your poultry at fairs or swaps, do not share cages or equipment with other poultry owners.

Symptoms

All poultry owners, regardless of size and business structure, should familiarize themselves with signs of illness and call the State Veterinarian’s Office if they see:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Discolored wattles or combs
  • Drop in egg production
  • Sudden death

Additional Steps for Commercial Poultry Producers

Commercial poultry producers (egg producers, meat bird producers) should take additional proactive steps to increase the likelihood of continued business profitability in the event of a disease outbreak, such as:

  • Evaluating your farm’s carcass disposal options and contacting the Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation Waste Management and Prevention Division for a site evaluation and technical assistance: (802)828-1138.
  • Ensuring easy access to complete farm records that include live poultry and poultry product movement on and off the property and other non-poultry related routine farm traffic such as veterinary visits, feed deliveries, or service technicians. 
  • Implement and consistently utilize a visitor’s log.
  • Evaluate and plan for product storage if in the event of an outbreak your farm is not able to move product.
  • Initiate conversations with your markets to determine if they will accept your product during an outbreak.
  • If you are an organic farm, review with your certifying organization the possibility of raising your birds indoors, should such measures become necessary.
  • USDA Updates to Indemnity and Compensation Payments for Avian Influenza

Resources 

 

Contact Information

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, are encouraged to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and to report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through the Vermont Agency of Agriculture at (802)828-2421 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

Dr. Kristin Haas

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets

Kristin.Haas@vermont.gov

802-828-2426

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