Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is a deadly disease that affects both wild and domestic birds including ducks, chickens, turkeys, geese, guinea fowl, quail, and more. This disease is extremely contagious and often fatal, and was recently confirmed in wild mallard ducks in Middlesex and New London counties, in addition to a flock of backyard chickens in Long Island. Due to the serious risk HPAI poses, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture has issued a warning to all poultry owners.
Symptoms of HPAI include:
- Bird deaths with no clinical signs
- Lack of energy and appetite
- Decrease in egg production
- Soft, thin-shelled, or misshaped eggs
- Swelling of the head, eyelids, wattles, combs, or hocks
- Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, or hocks
- Gasping for air
- Coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge (runny nose)
- Stumbling or falling down
If your birds are sick or dying in large numbers, or you notice a sudden drop in egg production, report it immediately! This is the most important step in preventing further spread of HPAI.
- Call Pieper Memorial Veterinary Hospital 860-347-838
- Call the Connecticut State Veterinarian 860-713-2505
- Call the USDA toll-free 866-536-7593
To Keep Your Flock Safe:
- Protect your flock from coming into contact with wild or migratory birds. Bring your birds inside.
- Restrict access to your property and your flock.
- Practice an “all-in, all-out” philosophy and do not add new birds to an established flock.
- Clean and disinfect your clothes, shoes, equipment, and hands after contacting your birds or if you have been around other birds or bird owners.
- Do not borrow equipment and poultry supplies from other bird owners.
- Report sick birds.
While HPAI does not currently pose a threat to humans or non-avian animals, it is still a very contagious, oftentimes fatal virus that can wipe out entire flocks, from both small backyard farms to large commercial businesses. There is no vaccine available for HPAI, which means that staying informed and practicing good biosecurity is the best way to help protect birds from this deadly disease.
For further reading:
- Defend the Flock
- CT Department of Agriculture Avian Influenza Information
- USDA Avian Influenza Information
- NBC Connecticut