BROOMFIELD, Colo. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) has confirmed a backyard flock detection of a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) H5N1 in Pitkin County. CDA is working closely with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and other state and local partners for response. This finding is the first case of HPAI in domestic poultry in Colorado and confirmed cases can be tracked at ag.colorado.gov/hpai.
The Colorado State Veterinarian’s office received a report from a veterinarian in Pitkin County, after 35 out of 36 poultry in a flock died. The flock had known exposure to sick waterfowl in the preceding days. One bird carcass was delivered to the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for preliminary testing, with confirmatory testing being completed at the USDA NVSL on April 8, 2022. The remaining bird was euthanized and the farm is now under quarantine. CDA is actively working with local officials to increase monitoring and detection activities in Pitkin County.
“With the first detection of HPAI in a backyard flock in Colorado, the State Veterinarian’s office is working diligently to provide information to backyard flock owners about how to protect their flocks and continue to monitor commercial operations. CDA and USDA field staff will be performing outreach activities in the surrounding area to increase awareness of the risk for the disease. HPAI is a highly fatal disease that can decimate a small flock in less than 48 hours, so it is critical for bird owners to take measures that prevent the introduction and spread of the virus,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Maggie Baldwin.
CDA is asking all backyard flock owners to immediately increase the biosecurity measures they employ on their own premises, including keeping a closed flock, decreasing interactions between domestic and wild birds, and keeping feed away from wild birds. The State Veterinarian’s office has also been proactively working with Colorado’s commercial poultry operations to prepare and strengthen individual facility biosecurity plans.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of the avian influenza virus have been detected in the United States. Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk; poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of all poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165˚F is recommended as a general food safety precaution.
What bird owners can do:
INCREASE BIOSECURITY: Poultry owners must immediately increase biosecurity measures to protect their birds from HPAI. The USDA Defend the Flock website has helpful resources for keeping poultry healthy in any operation. Commercial poultry producers can use this toolkit to assess their biosecurity practices and preparedness.
MONITOR: Monitor your flock for clinical signs of HPAI, including monitoring production parameters (feed and water consumption, egg production) and increased illness and death. Any changes in production parameters that could indicate HPAI should be reported.
REPORT: Veterinarians and producers must report any suspicious disease events in poultry flocks to the State Veterinarian’s office at 303-869-9130. If it is after hours, the voicemail message will indicate which veterinarian is on call.
If you have sick birds or birds that have died from unknown causes, help is available at the Colorado Avian Health Call Line at CSU, 970-297-4008.
Wild birds: If you find three or more dead wild birds in a specific area within a two week period OR if you see live birds showing clinical signs of disease, please contact your local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office.
–Olga Robak, Colorado Department of Agriculture