Virtually everyone in the U.S. poultry industry knows about the highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza containing the H5N2 virus strain winging its way east across the country. As of late last week, HPAI was confirmed in Arkansas, California, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon, Minnesota, Missouri and Washington.
Wild and domestic birds are susceptible to the high-path strain of bird flu. And most state ag departments on the East Coast urge poultry producers and backyard enthusiasts to be on high alert.
Reason: The normal migratory pattern of wild fowl from winter feeding areas strongly suggests that the HPAI could arrive on the East Coast flyways.
Infected chicken and turkey flocks have experienced very high mortality. Infected and exposed birds in those flocks, which were not killed by the virus, had to be depopulated in order to stop further spread of disease in the impacted areas. Since the virus is in birds using the Pacific and Mississippi migratory and that the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways overlap, there's real concern that migratory waterfowl may also be carrying this virus up the coast, note Pennsylvania Ag Department authorities.
Strict biosecurity practices are strongly recommended to minimize contact between domestic poultry including waterfowl and wild birds and wild waterfowl.
First clues of trouble
Clinical signs of avian influenza include: respiratory disease, coughing, sneezing, and snicking; decreased egg production; swollen heads; swollen or discolored wattles or combs; or sudden mortality. Flock owners in the affected states have reported sudden, dramatic mortality increases in their flocks with no other apparent signs.
It's critically important that all flock owners noting any of these clinical signs immediately notify their veterinarian or state or federal animal health officials. Prompt notification will assist in early detection of the pathogen and hopefully limit disease spread.
Find the latest updates on HPAI and biosecurity advice on the following websites:
National Turkey Federation: www.eattrukey.com