Avian flu precautions issued; owners advised to keep birds indoors to prevent disease spread

Maine Dept. of Agriculture says to delay domestic fowl, poultry swaps, shows and exhibits

Fri, 07/01/2022 - 11:15am

    Another detection as of June 28 of highly pathogenic avian flu in a backyard bird flock has prompted the Maine Dept. of Agriculture to issue a list of precautions. They include  recommending cancellation or postponement of competitions, exhibitions, shows, swaps, or other in-person events encouraging the gathering or comingling of domestic fowl or poultry for at least 30 days.

    “The trends observed with past North American HPAI outbreaks are that we often see a reprieve in the summer months,” according to a July 1 news release from the Maine Dept. of Agriculture. “Unfortunately, this is not the pattern observed in the current outbreak.”

    Animal health officials in Maine now recommend that all competitions, exhibitions, shows, swaps, or other in-person events encouraging the gathering or comingling of domestic fowl or poultry be postponed until at least 30 days after the last detection of an infected flock in the state.

    If organizers proceed with a poultry event, follow guidelines for keeping birds and other flocks healthy, the Dept. of Agriculture said.

    “ Most importantly: if a flock at home is not healthy, DO NOT go to the poultry show. Even if not bringing birds, clothes and footwear could carry disease into this environment. In addition:

    Minimize contact with the birds on exhibit and with their environments;

    Wash hands on the way into and out of the exhibit; and,

    Clean and disinfect poultry cages between use;

    Keeping gallinaceous (chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl) birds physically separate from waterfowl at the exhibit is strongly recommended. Consider not bringing waterfowl to the exhibit, as they can carry this virus without showing signs of illness.

    Be prepared to respond to suspect or confirmed cases of influenza: document show participant information, make a plan for restricting access to the exhibition barn, and keep contact information for state and local veterinarians handy.

    The risk assessment for HPAI transmission is ongoing and dependent on dynamic factors such as weather and wild bird migratory patterns.

    As the southern migration begins this fall, adjustments to our flock management practices may remain necessary to protect these birds.

    Keep an eye on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry website for new information about the status of the HPAI outbreak. Recommendations and regulations for Maine’s bird owners can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/ahw/animal_health/.

    For a complete snapshot of HPAI in Maine, the state's response, a list of frequently asked questions, and additional HPAI resources, visit maine.gov/dacf/hpai.

    To report sick poultry or unusual domestic bird deaths, call the USDA's toll-free sick bird hotline at 1-866-536-7593.

    To report a strange-acting or dead wild bird, call the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife at 207-287-8000. If after hours, contact the ME DIFW regional office at 1-800-452-4664.