The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) and Departments of Fish & Wildlife and Health would like all Vermonters to be on the alert for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). This year, multiple cases of the bird virus have been detected in Canada and multiple U.S. states outside of Vermont involving both domestic flocks and migrant waterfowl. Most recently the virus has been detected in domestic turkeys in Indiana, broiler chickens in Kentucky, wild ducks in New Hampshire, and a backyard flock of mixed species birds in Virginia, New York and Maine. It is important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to the general public from this HPAI virus to be low.
The HPAI virus is often initially introduced to domestic poultry by infected wild birds, through direct contact or contact with their droppings, and then may spread between poultry flocks due to poor biosecurity and/or unfavorable environmental conditions. While some waterfowl species can carry the disease without becoming sick, the HPAI virus is generally fatal for domestic poultry.
USDA has materials about biosecurity, including videos, checklists, and a toolkit available here: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/agency-agriculture-food-markets-news/recent-detection-avian-influenza-north-america-raises-concerns. In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, VAAFM at 802-828-2421 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593 as soon as possible.
Find more information on the VAAFM website: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/agency-agriculture-food-markets-news/recent-detection-avian-influenza-north-america-raises-concerns.