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Updates About High Path Avian Influenza in Maryland

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May 11, 2022

High Path Avian Influenza Confirmed in Black Vultures

Poultry producers encouraged to take precautions

DOVER, Del. (May 11, 2022)—Federal laboratory testing confirmed cases of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI) in samples taken from black vultures initially found sick and dead on April 22 in Harford County, Maryland. Following an investigation by the Maryland Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MDA, DNR) and the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services, the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed samples submitted from the dead birds tested positive for HPAI.

These detections mark the Delmarva region’s first confirmation of HPAI in wild birds since February 17, when the virus was found through wildlife surveillance in a Canada goose in Kent County, Delaware

HPAI is known to be carried by wild birds, especially waterfowl, raptors, and vultures. Avian influenza is a highly contagious airborne respiratory virus that spreads quickly among birds through nasal and eye secretions and manure. As scavengers, vultures will feed on dead wildlife, including other wild birds. If they ingest the virus, they can get sick and die. It is believed the vultures contracted the virus from eating infected migratory bird species.

Even with the ongoing detections of HPAI in poultry and wild birds in the United States, continuing testing of people in close contact with infected poultry indicates a low risk to the general public’s health. This H5N1 virus has not shown an ability to infect and be transmitted between people. Avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which remain safe to eat. Properly cooking poultry and eggs to 165 degrees Fahrenheit will kill viruses or bacteria.

Since the initial detection in Harford County, more than 100 black vultures have died from the disease. A total count cannot be confirmed because wild birds often get sick and die where people cannot see them. Black vultures are also known to fly long distances, which means infected vultures may die in other locations and transmit the virus to other birds, including poultry.

Six farms on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Delaware were identified as impacted by HPAI between February 23 and March 18, 2022. With the first confirmation in a commercial poultry farm, a state-federal response was initiated between the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA), MDA, and USDA. 

Considering the ongoing detections in the black vulture population, all poultry owners need to continue with increased vigilance in protecting their flocks from contracting avian influenza. Follow these steps to help manage wildlife and keep avian influenza off your farm: 

  • Cover waste. Keep mortality and compost piles covered at all times. The recommendation is one part mortalities to two parts litter, with birds in layers no more than 5 inches deep and not placed next to sidewalls. Cover mortalities daily with litter. If vultures are still an issue, cover the bins with netting or a screen.
  • Remove standing water adjacent to poultry houses. Grade property to avoid pooling water. Fill or grade areas where water stands for more than 48 hours after heavy rainfall. Don’t walk or move equipment through or near standing water – this could track wildlife fecal matter or other contaminants with the virus into your barns. Never use untreated surface water for watering birds, cleaning poultry barns, or other facilities.
  • Manage ponds and basins on poultry farms. Prune or remove plants from banks of artificial water structures. Use wire grids, predator decoys, and scare devices to keep waterfowl away. Use fencing to separate natural ponds from the active area around barns.
  • Secure buildings. Regularly check and repair damaged screens on windows and doors and holes in barn walls. Install netting or screens and use repellent gel or bird spikes to deter perching. Wash away or remove old nests before each nesting season. It is unlawful to remove nests with eggs or young birds in them. 
  • Reduce food sources. Don’t feed wildlife. Remove spilled or uneaten feed immediately and ensure feed storage units are secure and free of holes. Wild birds can carry HPAI.
  • Use decoys. Install decoys and scare devices and move them often so wildlife doesn’t get used to them.

If you have sick poultry or experience increased mortality in your flock:

  • Commercial poultry producers should contact the company they grow for when they notice signs of disease.
  • Backyard flock owners who notice any signs of HPAI in their flock should contact:
    • In Delaware, email the Delaware Poultry Health Hotline at poultry.health@delaware.gov 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 Birdflu@maryland.gov.

If you see sick or dead wild birds, do not handle or move them. Report any sick wild birds.

  • For assistance in Maryland, call toll-free 1-877-463-6497. U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services operators are available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on state holidays. For phone numbers outside of Maryland, please call 410-349-8055. 
  • For assistance in Delaware, please visit our sick or dead wildlife reporting page (https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/fish-wildlife/conservation/sick-dead-wildlife/) or call 302-739-9912 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. After hours, weekends, and state holidays, leave a message at 302-735-3600, Ext. 2.

For more information on avian influenza, visit https://de.gov/poultry or https://mda.maryland.gov/avianflu

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For all media requests about HPAI, email: JIC@delaware.gov


March 9, 2022

Two Additional Cases of Avian Influenza Confirmed on Delaware and Maryland Farms

DOVER, Del. — Federal laboratory testing has confirmed two cases of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI)—one pullet operation in New Castle County, Delaware, and one broiler flock in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. Following an investigation by the Delaware and Maryland Departments of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratory has confirmed poultry from these farms have tested positive for highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI).

These avian influenza findings follow previously announced cases on farms in New Castle County, Delaware, and Cecil County, 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 birds on the properties are being or have been depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease.  Birds from affected flocks will not enter the food system.

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, and turkeys, along with some wild bird species such as ducks, geese, shorebirds, and raptors.

Considering these new cases 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.

Key biosecurity practices:

  • Clean and disinfect vehicles.  Don’t walk through or drive trucks, tractors, or equipment in areas where waterfowl or other wildlife feces may be. If you can’t avoid this, clean your shoes, vehicle, and equipment thoroughly to prevent bringing disease agents back to your flock. This is especially important when visiting with farmers or those who hunt wildfowl, such as when gathering at a local coffee shop, restaurant, or gas station.
  • Remove loose feed.  Don’t give wild birds, rodents, and insects a free lunch! Remove spilled or uneaten feed immediately and ensure feed storage units are secure and free of holes. Wild birds can carry HPAI.
  • Keep visitors to a minimum. Only allow those people who take care of your poultry to come in contact with your birds, including family and friends. Make sure everyone who has contact with your flock follows biosecurity principles.
  • Wash your hands before and after coming in contact with live poultry.  Wash with soap and water (always your first choice). If using a hand sanitizer, remove manure, feathers, and other materials from your hands because disinfectants will not penetrate organic matter or caked-on dirt.
  • Provide disposable boot covers (preferred) or disinfectant footbaths for anyone having contact with your flock. If using a footbath, be sure to remove all droppings, mud, or debris from boots and shoes using a long-handled scrub brush BEFORE stepping into the disinfectant footbath, and always keep it clean.
  • Change clothes before entering poultry areas and before exiting the property. 
    When handling birds, visitors should wear protective outer garments or disposable coveralls, boots, and headgear. Shower out and change clothes when leaving the facility.
  • Clean and disinfect tools or equipment before moving them to a new poultry facility. Before allowing vehicles, trucks, tractors, or tools and equipment (e.g., egg flats and cases) that have come in contact with birds or their droppings to exit the property, ensure they are cleaned and disinfected to prevent contaminated equipment from transporting disease. Do not move or reuse items that cannot be cleaned and disinfected, such as cardboard egg flats.
  • Look for signs of illness. Know the warning signs of infectious bird diseases.

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 health@delaware.gov 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 Birdflu@maryland.gov.

Additional Information:

For all media requests about HPAI, email: JIC@delaware.gov

Due to biosecurity concerns, no on-site interviews, photos, or videos are allowed. For more information on avian influenza, visit https://de.gov/poultry or https://mda.maryland.gov/Pages/AvianFlu.aspx.

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March 5, 2022

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Confirmed in Cecil County

Maryland Poultry Growers Advised to Take Precautions


Photo Credit: Edwin Remsberg


ANNAPOLIS, MD
— Federal laboratory testing has confirmed a case of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI) on a Maryland poultry farm. Following an investigation by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed a Cecil County sample tested positive for HPAI. The Maryland case comes one week after a HPAI positive in Delaware.

Following the Delaware case, Maryland and its federal and state partners have greatly expanded their surveillance sampling and testing regimen to better protect the poultry industry on the Delmarva Peninsula. To prevent the spread of the virus, depopulation of the affected birds has begun in Cecil County; nothing from the facility will enter the supply chain. The index farm is under a strict quarantine; only authorized personnel will be allowed on the premise.

“Avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which remain healthy and safe to eat and handle. All poultry growers, operators, and owners, including those who manage backyard flocks, must remain vigilant,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “MDA, USDA and other partner agencies are working diligently to address and localize the situation, including quarantining and testing nearby flocks.”

Avian influenza is a highly contagious airborne respiratory virus that spreads easily among birds through nasal and eye secretions, as well as 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, and turkeys, along with some wild bird species such as ducks, geese, shorebirds, and raptors. It has appeared sporadically over the last several decades in bird populations throughout the globe. Wild birds can carry the virus without becoming sick, while domesticated birds can become very sick. HPAI is not a public health concern.

Maryland growers should take the following precautions to protect their flocks:

  • Restrict access to poultry by posting “Restricted Access” signage, securing the area with a locked gate, or both.

  • Ensure that contaminated materials on the ground are not transported into the poultry growing house or area.

  • Provide the following items to anyone entering or leaving any area where poultry are kept:

    • Footbaths and foot mats with disinfectant;

    • Boot washing and disinfectant station; and

    • Footwear change or foot covers.

  • Cover and secure feed to prevent wild birds, rodents, or other animals from accessing it.

  • Cover and properly contain used litter, or other disease-containing organic materials to prevent wild birds, rodents, or other animals from accessing them, and keep them from being blown around by the wind.

  • Allow MDA to enter the premises during normal working hours to inspect your biosecurity and sanitation practices. Maintain a log of those who access egg and poultry houses.

  • Report any unusual or sudden increases in sick birds to the MDA Animal Health Program at 410-841-5810 or 410-841-5971. Also contact the USDA at 866-536-7593.

  • Read up about HPAI and biosecurity measures on the MDA website.

Commercial chicken growers, backyard flock owners can email questions about the outbreak to MD.Birdflu@maryland.gov. In addition, the USDA’s Defend the Flock website has information on ways to help mitigate the risk of avian influenza, including instructional videos, additional biosecurity measures, and photos that show the signs of illness. Please visit the department’s Avian Flu website for more information on avian influenza.

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Follow Maryland Department of Agriculture on Twitter @MdAgDept


January 21, 2022

Poultry Farmers Urged to Practice Enhanced Biosecurity

High Path Avian Influenza identified in Atlantic Flyway

Photo Credit: Edwin Resmberg

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is urging all poultry farmers to remain vigilant and practice enhanced biosecurity on their farms after U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild birds—two in Colleton County, South Carolina and one in Hyde County, North Carolina. 

“The recent findings serve as a timely reminder for all poultry farmers to remain vigilant in their biosecurity practices,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “This applies to everyone from commercial poultry growers to backyard flock owners. It is critical that everyone takes proper steps to isolate their birds and wild waterfowl migrating along the Atlantic flyway.”

During this time of year, migratory waterfowl moving through Maryland present a heightened risk for HPAI, which is a potentially devastating disease for poultry operations. HPAI is caused by an influenza type A virus, which can infect poultry (chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quails, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl) and is carried by free flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds. 

Growers are urged to follow these minimum guidelines to maintain a sanitary, biosecure premise:

  • Restrict access to poultry by posting “Restricted Access” signage, securing the area with a gate, or both.
  • Take steps to ensure that contaminated materials on the ground are not transported into the poultry growing house or area.
  • Provide the following items to anyone entering or leaving any area where poultry are kept:
    • Footbaths and foot mats with disinfectant;
    • Boot washing and disinfectant station;
    • Footwear change or foot covers.
  • Cover and secure feed to prevent wild birds, rodents or other animals from accessing it.
  • Cover and properly contain carcasses, used litter, or other disease-containing organic materials to prevent wild birds, rodents or other animals from accessing them and to keep them from being blown around by wind.
  • Allow MDA to enter the premises during normal working hours to inspect your biosecurity and sanitation practices. 
  • Report any unusual bird deaths or sudden increases in very sick birds to the MDA Animal Health Program at 410-841-5810 or after-hours to 410-841-5971. Also contact the USDA at 866-536-7593. 
  • Read up about HPAI and biosecurity measures on the MDA website.

USDA APHIS’ website for its Defend the Flock program has many valuable resources available for poultry owners, including a variety of instructional videos, to help mitigate the risk of HPAI on their operation. 

For more information on avian influenza, please visit the department’s website.

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Follow Maryland Department of Agriculture on Twitter @MdAgDept


December 27, 2018

Commercial Poultry Flock in Wicomico County Confirmed Negative for Influenza A

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Increased surveillance and further testing for avian influenza have confirmed no signs of the disease following inconclusive screening results from a Wicomico County commercial poultry flock during the week of December 10. Additional testing from the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed negative test results for the suspect flock and screening of nearby farms were also all negative.

Out of an abundance of caution following the inconclusive result, the decision was made to depopulate the suspect flock. Avian influenza is not a food safety or human health concern, but it is a very serious issue for the poultry business because of its impact on bird health.

“We are all relieved by the negative test result, and I am proud of the rapid and collaborative response to this event,” said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder. “This has demonstrated that our department is prepared to work with federal, state and industry partners to protect the chicken industry, which is a vital part of Delmarva’s economy.”

For more information on avian influenza, visit Maryland Department of Agriculture’s website.

# # #

Follow Maryland Department of Agriculture on Twitter @MdAgDept


January 9, 2017

State Agriculture Department Renews High Path Avian Influenza Emergency Orders

Poultry Entering State Must be Tested or Certified Healthy, Poultry Flocks Must Maintain Biosecurity

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Secretary of Agriculture has extended Emergency Orders to prevent High Path Avian Influenza from infecting Maryland poultry flocks. These measures are in response to the continuing threat of an outbreak. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today detected the presence of the H5N2 strain of avian influenza in a wild mallard duck in Montana. There has been no detection of associated illness or mortality in domestic poultry, but this serves as a timely reminder of the continuing threat of HPAI in the United States. Read More


January 5, 2017

Maryland Department of Agriculture Announces Animal Health Requirements for 2017 Fair & Show Season

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture today announced animal health requirements for the 2017 fair and show season. Under the new regulations, all cattle and swine entering Maryland fairs and shows will be required to have a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. The new requirements also extend the previous Avian Influenza testing interval from 10 days to 21 days. Also, private sale of poultry will be allowed this year with a record of sale maintained by the fair or show operator for one year. Read More


December 13, 2016

State Agriculture Leaders Urge Poultry Growers to be on Guard for Deadly Bird Flu

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture is calling for a renewed effort this winter by all poultry producers to intensify their biosecurity efforts. Recent High Path Avian Influenza outbreaks in Western Europe, Russia, Israel, India, Korea, and now Japan mean Maryland poultry growers, large and small, are at a much higher risk of seeing High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI) destroy their flocks. Read More


July 8, 2016

State Agriculture Department Renews High Path Avian Influenza Emergency Orders

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Secretary of Agriculture has extended Emergency Orders to prevent High Path Avian Influenza from infecting Maryland poultry flocks. These measures are in response to the continuing threat of an outbreak. The quarantine orders require all hatching eggs and poultry entering the state to be tested within 10 days or come from certified clean sources. Poultry markets must maintain records of all birds sold or purchased.  The quarantine orders also, all commercial poultry farms must meet basic biosecurity and sanitation practices, including: Read more.


January 28, 2016

Animal Health Requirements for 2016 Fair & Show Season Announced

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture has announced that its health requirements for the 2016 fair and show season prohibit all poultry exhibitions prior to May 15. After that date, poultry-egg shows will be permitted for one-day only. All poultry – both in state and out of state – must be tested for avian flu within 10 days prior to entry or originate from a clean or monitored flock. Waterfowl, wildbird displays, poultry petting zoos, and private sales of poultry are also prohibited.  In addition, a new Maryland Certificate of Veterinary Inspection Form will replace both Interstate and Intrastate forms in Maryland. Read more.


January 21, 2016

Training for Bird Flu

BirdFlu

Some 45 state, federal & local officials spent the day in Salisbury training to set up an Incident Command Post in preparation for for a bird flu outbreak on the Eastern Shore. State Veterinarian Dr. Michael Radebaugh (standing) leads a “hot wash” discussion after the exercise. Dr. Mark Remick from USDA-APHIS (blue shirt) answers questions from the federal prospective.


January 15, 2016

Bird Flu is Back – Flock Owners Need to Double Down on Biosecurity Now!

State Agriculture Department reaching out to flock owners to help them protect their birds

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture is alerting all poultry owners and growers to double down on all biosecurity practices now that a highly pathogenic H7N8 avian influenza (HPAI) virus has been confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana.

“I have been saying that bird flu would return, and it was a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if,’” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Avian flu is back and even though it is not yet in Maryland, that means ‘when’ is now.” Read more.



USDA Confirms Highly Pathogenic H7N8 Avian Influenza in a Commercial Turkey Flock in Dubois County, Indiana

WASHINGTON, January 15, 2016 — The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H7N8 avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial turkey flock in Dubois County, Indiana. This is a different strain of HPAI than the strains that caused the 2015 outbreak.  There are no known cases of H7N8 infections in humans.  As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kills bacteria and viruses, including HPAI. Read more.

 


January 7, 2016

High Path Avian Influenza Media Briefing

MDA officials brief the media on how Bird Flu  information will be released.

MDA officials brief the media on how Bird Flu information will be released.

Secretary Joe Bartenfelder, State Veterinarian Michael Radebaugh and Communications Director Julie Oberg briefed the media today about how information about High Path Avian Influenza will be released if there is ever a confirmed cased in Maryland. A copy of that briefing presentation are available on  the Bird Flu Press Kit. 


September 16, 2015

Note to Editors

In the event that a Maryland poultry operation has a confirmed case of HPAI, the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will announce the arrival through a press release.

All editors and reporters who intend to cover HPAI issues are strongly encouraged to peruse the background information on our website at mda.maryland.gov/avianflu as well as the considerable information provided by USDA. (The links to USDA information are on our webpage.) Animal Health experts will likely be much too busy handling this emergency to conduct routine informational interviews. We encourage you to read this information and ask your background questions now.

During an incident, we will post updates on this blog.

MDA will also be active on social media, especially on Twitter. We have established a dedicated Twitter feed @MdBirdFlu for information about bird flu in Maryland. Our main Twitter account is @MdAgDept.

 


Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:

Jason Schellhardt
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888

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