Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Situational Report - March 17, 2022

March 17, 2022

For more information contact: Jim Britt at: Jim.Britt@maine.gov

Maine Animal Health Officials Respond to Avian Influenza

Current Situation

  • USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in samples taken from two small flocks of non-commercial backyard birds (non-poultry); one in Lincoln County, confirmed Saturday, March 12, and one in York County, Monday, March 14.
  • Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) placed the properties under quarantine, and humane depopulation efforts have been completed.
  • DACF has implemented additional safety measures, including monitoring properties with domestic flocks within a 10 km radius and notifying bird owners of the importance of proactive safety measures to help prevent disease.
  • The risk for HPAI remains high, and backyard flock and commercial operators are advised to keep birds indoors to prevent the spread of this disease.

Other recent HPAI confirmations in Maine: Confirmed cases of the H5N1 strain of HPAI were detected in non-commercial backyard birds (non-poultry) on Saturday, February 19, and on Wednesday, February 23. Both cases were confirmed in Knox County, Maine. All confirmed cases will be listed on the APHIS website.

HPAI Common Questions

Q: How long do we have to keep our birds inside?
A: As long as the disease transmission risk is high. Please reference the Maine DACF Animal Health website for up-to-date information.

Q: What are the signs of HPAI in birds?
A: Sudden death without clinical signs; Lack of energy and appetite; Decreased egg production or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; Swelling of the head, comb, eyelid, wattles, and hocks; Purple discoloration of wattles, comb, and legs; Nasal discharge, coughing, and sneezing; Incoordination; or Diarrhea. Learn more.

Q: How do I protect my flock from HPAI?
A: The best approach is to practice good biosecurity - this means keeping your birds separate from sources of disease, such as infected wild birds and their environment.

Q: What should I do if I have sick birds or large mortality in my flock?
A: Report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through your state veterinarian or through USDA's toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

Q: Can people contract AI?
A: No cases of this particular strain of the avian influenza virus have been detected in humans in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recent detections of this strain of influenza in birds in Maine and several other states present a low risk to the public.

Q: Does HPAI present a food safety risk?
A: No, poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly.

Q: Is compensation offered to impacted flock owners?
A: Yes. Refer to the USDA APHIS website (PDF) to learn what is covered and how the process works.

Additional Resources

According to the USDA, all bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should:

  • Practice protective security measures to help prevent disease
  • Prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and
  • Report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through your state veterinarian or through USDA's toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

For backyard and commercial poultry producers:

DACF's Animal Health team is also working closely with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC). Though this strain of avian influenza has not been detected in humans in the United States, Maine CDC is monitoring the health and wellbeing of Animal Health staff and flock owners who were exposed out of an abundance of caution. Signs and symptoms of bird flu infections in people can include fever (temperature of 100F or greater) or feeling feverish, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, fatigue, headaches, eye redness (or conjunctivitis), and difficulty breathing. Other possible symptoms are diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. As with seasonal flu, some people are at high risk of getting very sick from bird flu infections, including pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and people 65 and older. The U.S. CDC provides information on avian flu transmission at this link. The Maine CDC's Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory is prepared to process samples and quickly provide results for anyone potentially exposed to the virus.