A small, non-commercial backyard flock in Suffolk County, New York has tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The flock had a total of eight birds in it. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of HPAI after samples from the flock were tested at the Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (AGM) is working closely with USDA APHIS on a joint incident response. The announcement prompts reminders for commercial and hobby poultry farmers to increase their biosecurity measures to help prevent the spread of the disease.
AGM officials have quarantined the affected premises in Suffolk County, and the small number of remaining birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system. As part of existing avian influenza response plans, AGM and USDA are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in areas around the affected flock.
To date, additional cases of HPAI have been confirmed in wild birds in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Georgia, and Florida. Cases have also been detected in commercial flocks in Indiana and Kentucky, and a backyard flock in Virginia. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these recent HPAI detections in birds do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kills bacteria and viruses.
Further information about the USDA response can be found on their website.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Avian influenza outbreaks can spread quickly. We will continue to do all we can at the Department to safeguard the state’s flocks and encourage everyone who keeps poultry to be vigilant about minimizing their birds’ exposure to the virus and to wild bird populations. Our poultry industry is a significant part of the state’s agricultural industry and these biosecurity steps are our best line of defense against the disease.”
AGM officials are reaching out to poultry and egg farms across the state to ensure best practices are being implemented and to prepare for potential additional avian influenza cases in New York.
The Department encourages those involved in poultry production to take extra steps to prevent their flocks from becoming infected. All poultry producers, from small backyard to large commercial operations, should review their biosecurity plans and take precautions to protect their birds. Poultry biosecurity materials and checklists can be found on the USDA’s “Defend the Flock” website. Best practices include:
- Discourage unnecessary visitors and use biosecurity signs to warn people not to enter buildings without permission.
- Ask all visitors if they have had any contact with any birds in the past five days.
- Forbid entry to employees and visitors who own any kind of fowl.
- Require all visitors to cover and disinfect all footwear.
- Lock all entrances to chicken houses after hours.
- Avoid non-essential vehicular traffic on-farm.
- After hauling birds to processors, clean and disinfect poultry transport coops and vehicles before they return to the farm.
- Report anything unusual, especially sick or dead birds, to AGM.
In addition to practicing good biosecurity, poultry owners should keep their birds away from wild ducks and geese and their droppings. Outdoor access for poultry should be limited at this time.
To report sick birds, unexplained high number of deaths, or sudden drop in egg production, please contact AGM’s Division of Animal Industry at (518) 457-3502 or the USDA at (866) 536-7593.