Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza confirmed in Ocean County non-poultry flock


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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) has confirmed a new Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) case in an Ocean County backyard flock (non-poultry) as classified by the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH).

The disease response is being coordinated between state and federal partners, according to a press release from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

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Test samples from domestic poultry at the Ocean County premises were submitted and tested at the New Jersey Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory.

Some birds experienced mortality and some displayed neurologic signs before succumbing to the disease. Congruent testing was completed at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, which confirmed detection of the disease on Oct. 22, according to the press release.

State and federal personnel are following the appropriate response plan, including implementing site quarantine, proper biosecurity measures and depopulation of poultry on the premises.

Additionally, outreach to poultry owners, live bird markets and the general public at www.nj.gov/agriculture has been completed to provide recommendations on poultry management and measures to ensure the maintenance of a healthy flock, according to the press release.

HPAI is highly contagious and often fatal in domestic poultry species. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections in birds do not present an immediate public health concern. As a reminder, poultry and eggs’ proper handling and cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Farenheit kill bacteria and viruses.

Signs of HPAI in poultry can include sudden death; decrease in feed or water consumption;
respiratory signs such as coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge; swelling around the eyes; open-mouth breathing; darkening of the comb/wattles; reddening of the shanks or feet; decreased egg production; and lethargy.

HPAI spreads through contact with bodily secretions, including feces, ocular, nasal or oral secretions from infected birds. The virus can spread on vehicles, equipment, shoes, etc.

Practicing good biosecurity can help prevent the spread of HPAI onto a farm, according to the press release.

HPAI is a reportable disease. Any individual who gains knowledge or suspects the existence of the disease in poultry/birds is required to notify the New Jersey Department of Agriculture without delay.

Deceased birds suspected of having Avian Influenza should be double-bagged and stored appropriately for testing. Do not expose dead poultry to the environment, other poultry, or wildlife/wild birds. Wash your hands after handling sick or dead birds.

Anyone who suspects HPAI is asked to alert the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health, at 609-671-6400.

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