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. No human cases of this HPAI virus have been detected in the United States or internationally. Influenza in poultry does not constitute a food safety risk.
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 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.
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.
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
- Discolored wattles or combs
- Drop in egg production
- Sudden death
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.
- Visit the Agency of Agriculture’s website at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/animal_health to view a list of questions that may be asked of your farm during an outbreak.
USDA: Biosecurity for Birds
- Vermont HPAI Response Plan
- Poultry Biosecurity Training Materials
- Avian Influenza Backyard Producers 2018 Spanish: https://youtu.be/JnCK2w29iI0
- Avian Influenza Backyard Producers 2018: https://youtu.be/PhZrkcI2R68
- Avian Influenza Commercial Farmers 2018 Spanish: https://youtu.be/zVzj13Y5ad4
- Avian Influenza Commercial Farmers 20185: https://youtu.be/ZrzwyMS-tME
- Avian Influenza Technical Service Personnel 2018 Spanish: https://youtu.be/YhBIe1JXBTs
- Avian Influenza Technical Services Personnel 2018: https://youtu.be/yFgGya5-pEQ
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.