The department of health is warning residents that an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Influenza has been discovered in the Hudson Valley.

Over 100 birds in the Hudson Valley have been infected with the H5N1 influenza strain and officials are concerned that the virus could make its way to local residents. The infection has forced health workers to kill the remaining birds in a flock that includes chickens, ducks, geese and guinea fowl. Officials believe the animals came in contact with wild waterfowl that wound up infecting the birds with the virus, more commonly known as the avian flu.

Where did it come from?

In early February, the Department of Agriculture confirmed the first U.S. case of avian flu since 2020. Since the outbreak at a commercial turkey facility in Indiana, there have been cases found across the country. Here in the Hudson Valley, the avian flu had already been detected in commercial and backyard flocks in Ulster and Dutchess counties.

Bird Flu Strain At Suffolk Poultry Farm Confirmed As Infectious H5N1
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The latest outbreak has occurred in Sullivan County. The department of health says that symptoms of avian flu in birds include "diarrhea, malaise, loss of egg production and/or misshaped eggs, anorexia, discolored combs, wattles, hocks and skin around the eyes, neurological changes (discoordination), death with no other apparent cause and swelling."

Concern over transmission to humans

Luckily, humans have not been affected yet but Sullivan County Public Health Director Nancy McGraw says that may change.

No documented human cases have occurred within this particular HPAI outbreak among local fowl, but historically, pandemic influenza outbreaks have started in animals and spilled over into the human population, so we’re keeping a very close eye on the situation with the NYS Department of Health

The World Health Organization says that H5N1 does not easily jump to humans, but close contact with sick animals can cause infection. The CDC says that most human cases are fatal. The mortality rate appears to be the highest in people aged 10-19 years old and in young adults. While it's rare for humans to pass the avian flu to each other, scientists are fearful that a mutation could occur that would make the virus easily transferable.

Chickens Test Positive For The H7 Strain Of Bird Flu
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Symptoms and warning signs

McGraw is asking anyone who has had contact with an ill bird and exhibits symptoms such as conjunctivitis, upper respiratory symptoms, fever, body aches, or symptoms consistent with any flu-like illness to contact the public health department at (845) 292-5910.

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