Confirmed Case of HPAI in Wisconsin, DATCP Asks Poultry Owners to Maintain Strong Biosecurity

The fall migration of wild birds is underway, increasing risks of introducing highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) into domestic poultry flocks. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) recommends that poultry owners use strict biosecurity practices to help protect their birds from infection.

DATCP has identified a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a backyard flock in Taylor County. This is Wisconsin’s first confirmed case of HPAI in a domestic flock in 2023. This is Wisconsin’s first infected flock since November 7, 2022.

HPAI viruses are highly contagious and often fatal to domestic poultry. Flock owners with infected flocks must practice strict biosecurity measures to prevent spreading the infection to uninfected flocks.

HPAI viruses are highly contagious and often fatal to domestic poultry. The disease can be spread by contact with infected birds, commingling with wild birds or their droppings, equipment, or clothing worn by anyone working with the animals. Signs of HPAI include:

  • Sudden death without clinical signs Lack of energy or appetite
  • Decrease in egg production; soft, misshapen eggs
  • Purple discoloration of wattles, comb, and legs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Runny nose, coughing, sneezing
  • Stumbling or falling down
  • Diarrhea

The best way to protect flocks from infection is through biosecurity practices that prevent virus introduction. All poultry owners — regardless of the size of their operation — must ensure that biosecurity practices are in place to prevent HPAI from infecting flocks. DATCP encourages all poultry producers to review and update their biosecurity plans. Those who do not have a biosecurity plan should work with their flock veterinarian to develop one that clearly addresses the risks for disease introduction specific to their operations. Biosecurity guides and other resources are available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Defend the Flock Program online at aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian

Poultry owners that notice a rapid onset of unexplained deaths in their flock, with or without signs of respiratory distress, should contact their local veterinarian or report it to DATCP at (800) 572-8981.

State law requires Wisconsin poultry and other livestock owners to register where their animals are kept. DATCP uses this information to rapidly respond to animal disease outbreaks to protect animal health, the food supply, public safety, and Wisconsin’s agriculture economy. Registration is free and can be completed at wiid.org or by calling the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium (WLIC) at (888) 808-1910.

Please visit hpai.wi.gov for regular updates on HPAI in Wisconsin and to find resources for poultry owners.

Last updated November 20, 2023. 

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