BISMARCK, N.D. – The confirmation of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in 56 hunter-harvested wild waterfowl as part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s ongoing surveillance program in North and South Carolina over the past two weeks is a reminder to poultry owners to increase biosecurity. The strain, a Eurasian H5N1 HPAI, is related to the strain of HPAI that Europe and the Middle East have been fighting in recent months and had not been detected in a wild bird in the United States since 2016.
“As migration takes place this spring, we encourage producers to focus on biosecurity,” North Dakota State Veterinarian Dr. Ethan Andress said. “Anyone involved with poultry production from backyard birds to a commercial operation should review and understand how the virus could spread to their birds and prevent the exposure before it happens."
“North Dakota had two cases of H5 HPAI in Dickey and LaMoure counties in 2015, affecting well over 100,000 birds combined,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “Producers here and across the Midwest learned firsthand the hardship this virus can cause.”
The North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Division offers assistance for surveillance of disease conditions such as avian influenza. Currently, approximately 60 samples per month are submitted to determine the avian influenza status of North Dakota.
Poultry owners should immediately report unusual death loss, a drop in egg production or sick birds to their local veterinarian to decrease the impact HPAI may have on the region. Remember to restrict access to property, keep wild birds away from other birds and practice enhanced biosecurity. Hunters who are also bird owners should dress game birds in the field whenever possible and use dedicated footwear and tools to clean game.