Avian influenza: reminders and be on heightened alert

HPAI is highly transmissible and farms around the world should be on high alert
calendar icon 11 July 2023
clock icon 3 minute read

The dangerously transmissible disease, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is still an ongoing issue. All chicken, turkey, and duck farms should be on heightened alert and exercise strict biosecurity protocols at this time, and through the coming months.


Manure handlers and brokers, Nutrient and Odor Management Planners, Conservation Districts, and all others working with and within the poultry industry should be proactive with disease transfer precautions. Manure can act as a transport vector of this virus, requiring thorough cleaning and disinfection of equipment before and after working with any poultry farm. All manure equipment such as trucks and spreaders must be cleaned of all organic matter (manure, feathers, bedding, etc.) with washing before disinfection is conducted. Disinfectants are not designed to work on masses of organic material. Use disinfectants according to label instructions. Beyond the mechanical equipment, remember to pay attention to clothing, boots, other tools, floormats, etc.

Clearly define lines of separation

Risks exists beyond farm-to-farm movement. Since HPAI transmission is associated with migratory birds, especially waterfowl, the disease can be picked up on tires from a field or roadway where a wild animal has shed the disease. This means that detailed attention should be paid to on-site travel with precautions taken to avoid cross traffic between field equipment and those that will work directly with confined flock animals. Clearly define lines of separation and be sure that all employees of farms and the commercial manure handling entities remain compliant. This may mean that the hauler must detour around a path on which barn employees travel. Limit on-farm activities to only those that are necessary. Limit the number of vehicles that enter farms to only those necessary for task completion.

Communicate with your team

Clearly discuss all these items with farm management before work begins to minimize risk of miscommunication. Document cleaning and disinfection activities with each piece of equipment. If you suspect HPAI in a flock or have any questions and reside in the state of Pennsylvania, please contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture hotline at 717-772-2852. If a quarantine scenario is applied in an area in which you work, you must adhere to the protocols of the quarantine order. This may mean that agency authorities provide specific instruction.

The following items have appeared in HPAI quarantine orders in the past. These are provided here for example guidance purposes and do not necessarily appear in a current order.

  • Quarantines may restrict interstate transport of poultry manures and products.
  • Quarantines may prohibit the removal of poultry manures and products from a defined geographic area.
  • Quarantines may prohibit movement between poultry operations.
  • Any conveyance, vehicle, container or material utilized to transport, deliver, pickup or distribute poultry, poultry waste, poultry manure or live or unprocessed goods or products of poultry or any combination of those shall be completely cleaned and disinfected, using commercial truck washing equipment or other equivalent cleaning, and disinfecting equipment, and shall be free of visible accumulations of manure and feathers prior to entry onto a poultry operation premises to load or pickup poultry or poultry manure. Where a vehicle or conveyance has been utilized to apply poultry manure or litter the entire vehicle, including the inside of the cab, and all parts of the conveyance or application device shall be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Proper documentation of such cleaning and disinfection is required, including receipts from a commercial truck washing operation, or documentation of the place and type of equivalent equipment utilized, showing the date and time the vehicle, conveyance, containers, and materials were cleaned and disinfected shall be kept by the owner or operator of the vehicle or conveyance and shall be available for inspection by the Department of Agriculture or Pennsylvania State Police. All such receipts shall be kept by the owner or operator of the vehicle or conveyance for a period of one month.

Penn State University

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