KANSAS, US - Kansas Department of Agriculture was notified late on 13 March that samples collected from a backyard poultry flock containing both chickens and ducks in Leavenworth County returned a presumptive positive result for highly pathogenic avian influenza at the National Veterinary Services Lab.
Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) will be establishing a control zone around the premise. This case is in addition to the areas of Cherokee and Crawford counties that are under surveillance after a confirmed case of the H5N2 strain of avian influenza was found in Jasper County, Missouri near Asbury earlier in the week.
Avian influenza is a contagious, rapidly spreading viral disease affecting birds. Outbreaks of a strain of avian influenza have occurred in Missouri, Arkansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Idaho and are not considered to be a threat to public health or the food supply.
Dr Bill Brown, State Animal Health Commissioner, confirmed that a response team from KDA’s Division of Animal Health and from USDA will be dispatched to the area to conduct surveillance activities and to collect additional sample from flocks within the control zone.
He said: “It is important to know where backyard flocks of poultry exist. We will be seeking information about the presence of backyard flocks in Leavenworth County.”
Avian influenza exists naturally in many wild birds and can be transmitted by contact with infected animals or ingestion of infected food or water. CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with the virus have been detected at this time.
Dr Brown continued: “We are dedicated to providing the necessary assistance and precautions to avoid any possible spreading of the disease.
Symptoms in poultry include coughing, sneezing, respiratory distress, decreased egg production and sudden death.
KDA is seeking assistance from backyard poultry owners in Leavenworth County. If you currently own poultry, the agency is requesting you self-report your backyard flock. This will assist animal health officials in helping to monitor the situation and control the spread of this disease. Please email information about the location and type of backyard flock in Leavenworth County to HPAI@KDA.KS.GOV. You may also contact the KDA Division of Animal Health at 785-564-6601.
If you suspect your flock has contracted the disease, quarantine the affected animals immediately. Also, be sure to restrict traffic on and off your farm and thoroughly disinfect any material leaving the farm such as tires, equipment and clothing. No effective treatment for the disease has been found. Infected animals must be humanely destroyed and disposed of properly to prevent the disease from spreading.
Although vaccines are available, they are not commonly used because no vaccine covers all 15 strains of the disease. Prevention is the best way to combat avian influenza. Keep wild birds away from your home or farm, and stay informed about the health of neighbouring animals.
You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.