Avian Influenza Detected In Eastern States

Avian Influenza (AI) can be carried by wild birds, which means any flock no matter how large or small is susceptible to the virus.

Dr. Darlene Konkle, the Wisconsin State Veterinarian, says that before the holiday season a strain of highly pathogenic AI was detected among wild birds. After spreading through Europe, it has now traveled to the United States in Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia.

In 2015, some facilities were depopulated to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus that causes birds to fall ill very quickly and leads to death. Dr. Konkle says that some of the first signs of AI are a drop in egg production and a decrease in feed and water intake.

This strain doesn’t just affect chickens, it also impacts turkeys and other waterfowl. She says that there is not much immunity, meaning any bird that comes into contact with a sick animal will be infected. 

She says the Department of Agricultural Trade and Consumer Protection is remaining in close contact with their USDA partners, where there is a good network of communication among states. They are also keeping lines of communication open in Wisconsin, meeting with poultry producers regularly.

There is no vaccine available for this new strain of AI and antibiotics are not an effective treatment method, which means prevention is key to help keep your flock from becoming infected. Dr. Konkle says that biosecurity measures including limiting visitors on your farm, wearing a separate pair of coveralls and boots, and washing your hands are some of the best methods.

Livestock premises registration is required for all locations where livestock congregate, regardless of how large or small your farm is. Dr. Konkle says having your premises registered is integral in tracking the spread of diseases like AI.

If the virus is detected in Wisconsin, DATCP will be required to mobilize in order to help protect the rest of the state’s flock. She says they are actively preparing a response plan and are getting ready to move if needed.

Visit the DATCP website for more information on the virus, enhanced biosecurity measures and more at datcp.wi.gov by typing in “Avian Influenza” into the search bar.