UNL CropWatch April 13, 2011 NDA Quarantines Backyard Flocks due to Low Path Avian Influenza

UNL CropWatch April 13, 2011 NDA Quarantines Backyard Flocks due to Low Path Avian Influenza

April 13, 2011

State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes has placed several backyard mixed bird flocks under quarantine after receiving confirmation of a case of low pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) in a backyard flock in eastern Nebraska. A Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Bureau of Animal Industry staff member detected the LPAI case through routine testing conducted at a recent exotic bird sale.

“Low path Avian Influenza commonly occurs in wild birds, and so we conduct routine testing of backyard flocks because those flocks often are exposed to the outdoors,” Hughes said. “Upon confirmation of the LPAI case, we quickly determined where the birds originated from and where the birds were dispersed to through the exotic bird sale. We have no reason to believe this case is anything other than an isolated incident.”

“This is low-path Avian Influenza which isn’t usually a human health concern,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. “Low-path Avian Influenza is very different than the high-path (H5N1) Avian Influenza that continues to circulate overseas and is a cause for concern.”

The backyard flock in which the LPAI was discovered (the initial flock) has been quarantined and will be depopulated based on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) protocol. Hughes said owners of five additional backyard flocks in eastern Nebraska purchased birds from the initial flock at the exotic bird sale. So far, two of these flocks tested positive for LPAI and also will be depopulated. Backyard flocks that are within a two-mile radius of the three infected flocks currently are being quarantined and will undergo testing.

“A backyard flock typically consists of hobby birds, show birds, or birds used for personal consumption,” said Susan Joy, the general manager of Nebraska Poultry Industries.

NDA encourages all backyard flock producers to follow biosecurity measures on their operations, including:

  • requiring individuals to wash their hands before and after contact with birds;
  • avoiding contact with neighbors’ birds; and
  • disinfecting boots and changing clothes that come into contact with birds other than your own.

NDA conducts Avian Influenza testing as part of a cooperative agreement with USDA. Producers interested in having their flocks tested, free of charge, can call NDA at 800-572-2437.

Additional information about Avian Influenza, NDA’s testing program and biosecurity measures can be viewed at www.agr.ne.gov.