Avian Influenza

As of February 2022, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been detected in wild birds and poultry across many eastern states. USDA has published all detections of HPAI in poultry and wild birds on the APHIS website

The Colorado State Veterinarian’s Office is asking all poultry and bird owners to increase their biosecurity practices to keep the disease out of our domestic poultry in Colorado. 

Please visit USDA’s Defend the Flock Program to for in depth information about which biosecurity practices can keep your birds safe.

What Flock Owners Should Do

Owners should take the following steps to prepare:

INCREASE BIOSECURITY: It is extremely important for poultry owners to increase biosecurity measures to protect their birds from HPAI. The USDA Defend the Flock website has helpful resources for keeping poultry healthy in any operation. Commercial poultry producers can use this toolkit to assess their biosecurity practices and preparedness. 
 
MONITOR FLOCKS: Monitor your flock for clinical signs of HPAI, including monitoring production parameters (feed and water consumption, egg production) and increased morbidity and mortality. Any changes in production parameters that could indicate HPAI should be reported. 
 
REPORT DISEASE: It is important for veterinarians and producers to report any suspicious disease events in poultry flocks to the State Veterinarian’s office at 303-869-9130. If it is after hours, the voicemail message will indicate which veterinarian is on call. 
 
If you have sick birds or birds that have died from unknown causes, help is available at the Colorado Avian Health Call Line at CSU, their number is 970-297-4008. 
 
SECURE FOOD SUPPLY: We also strongly encourage poultry producers to enroll as a Secure Food Supply (SFS) participant through our office. The most important component of ensuring your continuity of business in the face of a HPAI outbreak is to enroll in SFS and have a biosecurity plan in place. If you would like more information on SFS, please reach out to: dave.dice@state.co.us or 303-263-2407. 

Click here to view the infographic on the right as a PDF.

Bird owners struggling with stress or anxiety around HPAI can contact Colorado Crisis Services by calling 1-844-494-TALK (8255) or texting TALK to 38255. Farmers and ranchers can receive a voucher for six free sessions with an ag-competent provider through the Colorado Agricultural Addiction and Mental Health Program (campforhealth.com). 

 

HPAI Guidance for Poultry Shows

On March 30, the Colorado State Veterinarian advised issuing an emergency rule suspending all poultry shows, including meets, sales, swaps, and competitions. The state’s Agricultural Commission approved this emergency rule. The rule takes effect immediately and will last for 90 days (until June 30, 2022), unless renewed or ended at an earlier date by vote of the Ag Commission and a recommendation of the State Veterinarian.

On Friday, June 24, 2022, the State Veterinarian’s office has issued HPAI Guidance for Poultry Shows, Swaps, and Commingling Events. Under this direction, the decision to postpone or cancel poultry shows, sales, swaps and events remains in the hands of local event organizers, except in the case of quarantine, health order, or movement restriction — whether all-state or site-specific. CDA will continue to monitor case trends and assess the risk to Colorado flocks and update guidance accordingly. Read more about the updated guidance here

It is critical to report sick birds or unusual bird deaths

  • Sick birds or birds that have died from unknown causes:
    • Call the Avian Health Hotline at Colorado State University (CSU): (970) 297-4008
  • Dead birds:
    • Submit to the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Fort Collins for HPAI Testing: (970) 297-4008 or (970) 297-1281
  • Multiple sick domestic birds or multiple unusual domestic bird deaths:
    • Call the Colorado State Veterinarian’s Office (303) 869-9130 or the USDA-Veterinary Services Colorado Office (303) 231-5385
  • Wild Birds
    • If you find three or more dead wild birds in a specific area within a two week period OR if you see live birds showing clinical signs of disease, please contact your local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office.

Thinking of going hunting? Make sure you don’t bring avian influenza home. 

Avian influenza is deadly to domestic poultry. Waterfowl hunters should take steps to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. 

Avian influenza mainly affects poultry but there is a risk of human infection. Human infections are most likely to happen in people directly exposed to infected birds or contaminated environments. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes the following recommendations for hunters to protect themselves from avian influenza:

  • Do not handle or eat sick game.
  • Field dress and prepare game outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wear rubber or disposable latex gloves while handling and cleaning game.
  • When done handling game, wash hands thoroughly with soap or disinfectant, and clean knives, equipment, and surfaces that come in contact with game.
  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke while handling animals.
  • All game should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before being consumed.

In rare cases, avian influenza can pass to humans, especially those exposed to sick birds. Hunters are advised to monitor their health for any signs of flu-like symptoms within a week of handling birds. Anyone who feels ill, should visit their health care provider.


Wild bird mortalities

Since approximately November 20, more than 2000 snow geese near the towns of Brush and Fort Morgan in Morgan County, have died due to an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. An additional detection in snow geese in Prowers County was confirmed on December 8, 2022. Learn more about HPAI and wild birds from Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Public is asked not to touch any dead birds they find on public lands and do not walk on ice to retrieve any carcasses. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is aware of the large mortality events and is working on a response plan.  

If you find three or more dead wild birds in a specific area within a two week period, you may notify your local CPW office. Do not handle any dead or dying birds. For individual carcasses found on private property, if necessary, members of the public may wear a mask and gloves to pick up a carcass, immediately double bag it, and place the bags in municipal trash. Discard gloves and mask and wash your hands immediately afterwards.

HPAI continues to pose a threat to Colorado's domestic birds. Bird owners should maintain biosecurity measures such as keeping their flocks away from wild birds and not touching any dead wild birds. 

Domestic bird owners should take extra precautions to avoid introducing the HPAI virus to their flocks, including:

  • preventing interaction between domestic and wild birds,
  • keeping food and water sources away from migrating birds, 
  • and monitoring flocks for signs of illness or death. 

Veterinarians and backyard, hobby, and commercial producers should report any suspicious disease events in poultry flocks to the State Veterinarian’s office at 303-869-9130. 

HPAI and Wild Birds - Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Situation Reports

Please note: Publicly accessible situation reports will be posted here every Friday. 

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Color coding legend for HPAI map

Blue Counties = Positive wild bird cases
Red Counties = Positive domestic bird cases
Purple Counties = Positive cases in both domestic and wild birds 

 

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WATCH: HPAI Webinar for Backyard Flock Owners

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