Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)

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Status of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Maine

The risk for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) remains high in Maine, and backyard flock and commercial operators are urged to prevent contact between domestic and wild birds by bringing them indoors and ensuring their outdoor areas are fully enclosed.

Last updated: February 8, 2023Flocks, backyard flocks and avian influenza current risk is at a high level.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is a highly contagious virus that can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including through wild birds, contact with infected poultry, equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers.

DACF started reporting confirmed HPAI cases in Maine in February 2022

Receive DACF updates and alerts regarding the status of avian influenza in Maine by opting into the Avian Influenza email list.

HPAI Confirmation Snapshot

County Date of Confirmation Flock Type Number of Birds
Cumberland 6/29/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 20
Waldo 4/5/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 50
Lincoln 3/30/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 3
Knox 3/29/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 40
Washington 3/26/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 20
Cumberland 3/22/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (poultry) 250
York 3/19/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 70
Knox 3/19/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 20
Lincoln 3/17/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 30
York 3/14/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 180
Lincoln 3/12/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 100
Knox 2/23/2022 Backyard Pet Chickens (non-poultry) 100
Washington 11/21/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 90
Hancock 1/27/2023 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 40
Knox 2/19/2022 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 30
Hanock 2/6/2023 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 30
Kennebec 2/6/2023 Backyard Mixed Species (non-poultry) 40

What Maine is Doing

DACF Animal Health placed the properties under quarantine, and humane depopulation efforts have been completed.

The risk for HPAI remains high in Maine, and backyard flock and commercial owners are urged to prevent contact between domestic and wild birds by bringing them indoors and ensuring their outdoor areas are fully enclosed.

HPAI in Maine FAQs

How is HPAI spread? +

The current outbreak of HPAI is spreading across the country primarily due to the migration of wild birds. There is little evidence to suggest HPAI is being spread from farm to farm (lateral transmission). The virus is very prevalent in the environment in wild birds so flock owners need to practice strong biosecurity. More information on steps they can take to enhance biosecurity is available here: http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.

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Do we know if the infected birds are ingesting wild bird droppings? +

HPAI is spread directly through wild bird droppings and indirectly through feed, water sources, and bedding that may have been exposed to the droppings.

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What kind of birds are in these backyard flocks? +

Examples include chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl.

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What does the term "Nonpoultry" mean? +

Nonpoutry means meat and eggs from known infected flocks were not destined for the food chain.

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How long do we have to keep our birds inside? +

As long as the disease transmission risk is high.

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What do we know about the coming months? +

Because HPAI is spread by migrating wild birds, it is difficult to predict what will happen over the coming months. TMigratory waterfowl (ducks, geese, and shorebirds) moving north in late winter and spring and south in the fall months are likely to shed AI virus again. It is critically important that poultry owners work now to provide indoor shelter for their birds and provide outdoor access only in covered poultry runs, allowing protection from predators and preventing contact with wild waterfowl and their droppings.

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Is it safe to purchase new birds for my flock this year? +

It's always recommended to only purchase birds from a reputable source that follows effective biosecurity protocols and closely monitors poultry health. NPIP Certified hatcheries monitor their breeder flocks for important chronic diseases, and are a recommended source for new poultry. In light of the nation-wide outbreak of Avian Influenza, it is more important than ever to follow cleaning and sanitation steps and only purchase birds with known health histories. You can find more detailed guidance from the USDA Defend the Flock Checklist for Adding or Replacing Poultry.

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What are the signs of HPAI in birds? +

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.

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How do I protect my flock from HPAI? +

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.

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What should I do if I have sick birds or large mortality in my flock or discover a sick or dead wild bird? +

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.

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Can people contract AI? +

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.

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Does HPAI present a food safety risk? +

No, poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly. Eggs from a known infected flock are safely disposed of.

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Is compensation offered to impacted flock owners? +

Yes. Refer to the USDA APHIS website (PDF) to learn what is covered and how the process works.

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Is an HPAI vaccine available? +

No vaccine for avian influenza is licensed for use in the United States. Protecting birds from this disease requires avoiding exposure to the virus through contact with wild waterfowl, sick birds, and contaminated environments.

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Additional HPAI 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 (PDF). 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. Learn more at Maine CDC's Avian Influenza and People.

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Contact: Jim Britt, DACF Director of Communications, (207) 480-0558, jim.britt@maine.gov