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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and What to Do

University of Minnesota Extension, Fillmore & Houston County News

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and What to Do

By Katie Drewitz, University of Minnesota Extension 

PRESTON and CALEDONIA, Minn. (03/30/2022) — You may be aware of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and its progress across the US. HPAI in poultry is highly pathogenic, meaning highly capable of disease, but there are several things that those who manage poultry can practice to control your flock’s susceptibility. 

Wild water fowl are natural reservoirs of the virus and other birds, like raptors, are part of ongoing HPAI H5N1 activity. Recently, this virus has turned up in domestic poultry farms in 15 states including Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. This article will share signs of HPAI to watch for, and what poultry owners large and small can do to manage risk.

According to the Center for Disease Control, HPAI poses minimal risk to public health. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health recommends knowing the signs of HPAI. These include unexplained and sudden deaths, decreased water consumption, decreased egg production, respiratory issues (ex: heavy breathing and wheezing), and quiet or depressed birds. If you find dead birds in your flock and cannot explain their death, contact your veterinarian or the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (320) 231-5170 immediately. 

One of the most important things you can do is to work with your veterinarian. They will be a valuable resource for all the health and biosecurity questions you may have. They can help you if your animals become sick or if you want to evaluate your biosecurity plan. Secondly, keep outside pets, wild birds, and waterfowl from coming in contact with your poultry. Now is the time to take steps to prevent contamination of tools, feed, or clothing that you use. For birds housed outside, cover and enclose outdoor feeding areas and water sources to deter other birds and animals (which may be sick) from coming near your flock.

Finally, the most important part of this process, prevent exposure to your flock. This can be accomplished by practicing biosecurity and using your biosecurity plan diligently. Wear clean clothing or coop specific clothing when you work around your flock. Use coop specific boots, coveralls, and clean gloves, washing them routinely. Make sure to scrub and disinfect the soles of your shoes with a bleach solution. Individuals can do this through having a scrub station right next to the coop, easily accessible. Wash your hands with warm soapy water both before and after caring for your poultry. It is important to note that all members working with and around poultry need to follow the biosecurity plan. Routinely reviewing the plan (ex: the first Sunday evening of the month) is an important part of using these beneficial practices to ensure the wellbeing of your birds.

The information for the above article was from UMN CIDRAP and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (https://z.umn.edu/AvianFluAndWhatToDo). For more information please reach out to your local Extension educator. Fillmore and Houston County residents can call the Fillmore County Extension office at 507-765-3896, the Houston County Extension office at 507-725-5807, or directly at wins0115@umn.edu, or my cell at 507-951-6609. 

PHOTO Source: UMN Extension

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