About 48,000 birds were killed at a north Alabama poultry farm after state agriculture officials confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza.
The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry announced Friday that a commercial pull chicken farm in Marshall County has been quarantined after samples taken from the flock tested positive for HPAI.
Although HPAI is considered a low risk to humans, it is highly contagious to birds, including commercial and backyard poultry flocks, officials said.
The virus is not considered a threat to food safety because infected birds do not enter suitable sources, the ministry said.
All poultry within a 10 kilometer radius, or 6.2 miles, of the farm is inspected and monitored.
However, deaths have not increased in other herds.
“It is important for commercial and backyard poultry operations to remain vigilant and closely monitor the health of their poultry,” Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Rick Pate and State Veterinarian Tony Frazier said in a joint statement. There is,” he said. “HPAI-infected herds in Marshall County reinforce the need to continue strict biosecurity measures, including fencing birds away from wild birds and other livestock herds.”
The presence of the virus in Marshall County comes a week after HPAI was confirmed at an upland game farm in Chilton County. The ministry said all poultry there (approximately 296,500 birds) were affected and all will be culled by the end of this week.
It was not immediately clear whether the cases at the farms were related.
The agency said federal and state officials are conducting additional surveillance and testing in areas surrounding affected flocks, noting that the United States has the most robust avian influenza surveillance program in the world.
The agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture monitor the disease in commercial poultry farms, backyard flocks, live bird markets, and wild bird populations.
Symptoms of HPAI in birds include:
- There was a sudden increase in the number of deaths of birds in the flock.
- Sneezing, gasping for air, coughing, and nasal discharge
- watery green diarrhea
- lack of energy and loss of appetite
- Reduced egg production or eggs with soft or thin shells or poorly shaped eggs
- Swelling of the head, eyelids, combs, wattles, and hock
- Wattles, combs, and legs turn purple
- Ruffled feathers, lethargy, lethargy
The ministry called on the commercial poultry industry and backyard flock owners to strengthen biosecurity measures to protect their operations from HPAI.
Such measures include:
- Cleaning vehicles and equipment
- Limit non-essential visitors
- Disinfect your shoes with a clean footbath
- Change of clothes in case of contact with birds etc.
Sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the Alabama Department of Natural Resources Conservation at 334-242-3469.
Sick or dead poultry and poultry should be reported to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry Poultry Division at 334-240-6584.
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