Flu That Kills Most Infected Humans Threatens New York, Hudson Valley
A type of flu that kills most infected humans, especially children, has now been found in birds in the Hudson Valley and other parts of New York.
On Friday, two laboratory-confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) were found, one in a pheasant flock in Dutchess County and one in a backyard flock in Ulster County, officials say.
Last week, officials confirmed a non-commercial backyard flock in Suffolk County, New York tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The Long Island flock had a total of eight birds in it, according to New York health officials.
While these are only three cases, it is anticipated that there will be many more, officials warn.
"Cases will increase across the northeast as wild waterfowl migrate northward in the coming months. Commercial flocks in Delaware, Indiana, and Kentucky have been affected, as have backyard flocks in Virginia, Maine, New York, and Michigan. We are asking our poultry producers to keep an eye out for suddenly high mortality and to be prepared to report any suspicious whole flock illness," the Cornell Cooperative Extension stated.
These flocks have been euthanized to help control the spread of the virus, officials say.
“Avian influenza outbreaks can spread quickly. We will continue to do all we can at the Department to safeguard the state’s flocks and encourage everyone who keeps poultry to be vigilant about minimizing their birds’ exposure to the virus and to wild bird populations. Our poultry industry is a significant part of the state’s agricultural industry and these biosecurity steps are our best line of defense against the disease," State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said.
The CDC says the bird flu is very contagious. It's often fatal for chickens.
Human cases of the bird flu are very rare, but most cases are fatal, according to the CDC. Mortality has been highest in people aged 10-19 years old and in young adults, officials say.
Most human bird flu cases have presented for medical care late in their illness and have been hospitalized with severe respiratory disease. However, some clinically mild cases have been reported, especially in children, the CDC states.
In the majority of cases, people got the virus after direct or close contact with sick or dead poultry that was infected with the virus.
The recent HPAI detections in birds do not present an immediate public health concern, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.
As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kill bacteria and viruses, officials say.
AGM officials are reaching out to poultry and egg farms across the state to ensure best practices are being implemented and to prepare for potential additional avian influenza cases in New York.
The Department encourages those involved in poultry production to take extra steps to prevent their flocks from becoming infected. Best practices include:
- Discourage unnecessary visitors and use biosecurity signs to warn people not to enter buildings without permission.
- Ask all visitors if they have had any contact with any birds in the past five days.
- Forbid entry to employees and visitors who own any kind of fowl.
- Require all visitors to cover and disinfect all footwear.
- Lock all entrances to chicken houses after hours.
- Avoid non-essential vehicular traffic on-farm.
- After hauling birds to processors, clean and disinfect poultry transport coops and vehicles before they return to the farm.
- Report anything unusual, especially sick or dead birds, to AGM.
- In addition to practicing good biosecurity, poultry owners should keep their birds away from wild ducks and geese and their droppings. Outdoor access for poultry should be limited at this time.
To report sick birds, an unexplained high number of deaths, or a sudden drop in egg production, please contact AGM’s Division of Animal Industry at (518) 457-3502 or the USDA at (866) 536-7593.