DOVER, Del. — Federal laboratory testing has confirmed a highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI) case in a commercial broiler farm in Kent County, Delaware. Following an investigation by the Delaware Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed poultry from this farm tested positive for highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI).
This avian influenza detection follows previously announced cases on farms in New Castle County, Delaware, and Cecil and Queen Anne’s Counties, Maryland. Following these cases, federal and state partners have greatly expanded their surveillance sampling and testing regimen to better protect the poultry industry on the Delmarva Peninsula.
State officials have quarantined all affected premises, and the birds have been depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from affected flocks will not enter the food system.
There is no public health concern, and avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which remain safe to eat.
Avian influenza is a highly contagious airborne respiratory virus that spreads quickly among birds through nasal and eye secretions and manure. The virus can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers. This virus affects poultry, like chickens, ducks, turkeys, and wild bird species such as ducks, geese, shorebirds, and raptors.
Considering this new case and the prevalence of the virus in the wild bird population, all poultry owners need to increase their vigilance in protecting their flocks from contracting avian influenza by following these steps:
- Limit, monitor, and record any movement of people, vehicles, or animals on or off your farm.
- Permit only essential workers and vehicles to enter the farm to limit the chances of bringing the virus from an outside source.
- Avoid visiting other poultry farms and any unnecessary travel off the farm.
- Disinfect equipment, vehicles, footwear, and other items that come into contact with flocks.
- Keep your flock away from wild or migratory birds, especially waterfowl.
- Isolate any ill animals and contact your veterinarian.
If You Have Sick Poultry or Experience Increased Mortality in Your Flock:
- Commercial poultry producers should follow the procedures of contacting the company they grow for when they notice signs of disease.
- Backyard flock owners who notice any of the signs of HPAI in their flock should contact:
- In Delaware, email the Delaware Poultry Health Hotline at email@example.com or call 302-698-4507 and provide your contact information, size of flock, location, and concerns.
- In Maryland, report any unusual or sudden increases in sick birds to the MDA Animal Health Program at 410-841-5810. Commercial chicken growers and backyard flock owners can email questions about the outbreak to MD.Birdflu@maryland.gov.
–Stacey Hofmann, Delaware Department of Agriculture