Avian influenza reported in Texas, monitoring continues

Texas A&M University provides educational info for producers
calendar icon 7 April 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

State regulatory and animal health agencies reported positive cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Texas, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Now AgriLife Extension and faculty in the Department of Poultry Science at Texas A&M University are providing educational information for producers and the public regarding the positive cases and recommendations to mitigate commercial and backyard flock exposure to the disease.

The US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) confirmed the first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Texas on 2 April.

Greg Archer, AgriLife Extension poultry specialist, said the first positive tests were from a game-bird operation in Erath County.

Infections were found in pheasants produced for hunting. A mixed-bird flock at the location, including pheasants, quail and ducks were euthanized, but a 14-day quarantine period for a 6-mile radius surrounding the isolated game ranch is underway.

APHIS and TAHC will continue to monitor birds, including backyard poultry flocks, within the perimeter during the quarantine. Any positive tests during that time will expand the quarantine perimeter and subsequently reactivate the 14-day quarantine period.

“They feel relatively confident this is an isolated incident because of the ranch’s location,” Archer said. “But we need people with backyard flocks to be especially diligent about reducing birds’ exposure to wild birds as the spring migration continues.”

Archer said the ongoing investigation has not determined how the avian flu pathogen was introduced to birds in this incident, but it is suspected to have been “tracked in” by people working in the facility, such as bird faeces on the bottom of a boot.

Archer said commercial poultry producers are very well versed in biosecurity, but should be extremely vigilant at this time. Texas’ backyard producers should also be practicing higher levels of biosecurity and limiting their flock’s exposure to wild birds.

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