Jeffco Public Health sounds alarm over contagious bird flu strain

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza found in several counties

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/10/22

An advisory on the Jefferson County Public Health website lays out a stark warning for backyard hobbyists and traditional farmers who keep birds.

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Jeffco Public Health sounds alarm over contagious bird flu strain

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza found in several counties

Posted

An advisory on the Jefferson County Public Health website lays out a stark warning for backyard hobbyists who keep poultry flocks (chickens, geese, ducks, quail, etc.) and traditional farmers who keep birds.

The advisory details how Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is monitoring the state for reports of wild and domestic birds that have been infected with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza , also known as H5N1 flu.

The virus has been found in wild and domestic bird populations in at least 15 counties in Colorado as of June 2022, including Jefferson County.

As a precaution, residents and farmers are urged to be alert to unusual illnesses or deaths in wild and domestic birds

According to CDPHE, The H5N1 strain of avian influenza is highly contagious in birds and can cause serious illness or death in birds that acquire the infection. It is rare, but not impossible, for humans to become sick with this illness — those most at risk are people who have regular contact with domestic and wild birds. Risk to the general public is low, and foodborne risk from poultry products is negligible as long as proper food safety cooking and handling precautions are observed.

To prevent illness, residents are urged to avoid contact with sick or dead birds and avoid touching surfaces that are contaminated with feces from domestic or wild birds. The use of appropriate personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and goggles can reduce risk of becoming ill after handling sick or dead birds, or cleaning contaminated surfaces. Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling birds or cleaning their environments.

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 by calling 970-297-4008. 

Domestic and commercial flock owners are urged to visit the CDPHE webpage on avian influenza for information on the virus, to view where confirmed ill bird populations have been identified and to find resources for poultry owners in Colorado. In addition, poultry flock owners should monitor all persons who are in contact with the birds for signs of illness and report it to Jefferson County Public Health at 303-232-6301.

avian, flu, birds, ducks, geese, chickens, Jeffco, Jefferson County, public, health

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