February 11th, 2022: "The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food are announcing that Eurasian H5, a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), was recently detected in waterfowl in the state."
Why should you be concerned: HPAI H5 viruses infect the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts of birds, can spread rapidly, and cause high mortality in infected poultry. Many birds have died and millions of chickens and turkeys in several states have been culled to try to control the outbreaks. Signs of HPAI in poultry can include sudden death; lack of energy, appetite, and coordination; purple discoloration or swelling of various body parts; diarrhea; nasal discharge; coughing; sneezing; and reduced egg production, or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs.
**There is no current risk to human health. To date, no human infections with HPAI H5 viruses have been identified in the United States. Preliminary laboratory studies suggest that the HPAI H5 viruses causing the poultry outbreaks are not well-adapted to humans.
What you can do to protect your birds:
All poultry keepers are encouraged to practice strict biosecurity measures to prevent interaction with wild birds that may be carrying the virus. To prevent your flock from catching or spreading disease, I recommend the following:
Avoid free-ranging your poultry. Keep poultry contained to a coop, secure run, or pen during peak times of wild bird movement to reduce interactions. Runs should be completely enclosed to prevent wild birds (or other animals) from entering.
Remove excess feed and wild bird feeders from areas near your coops and runs. Keep all feed in a secure location to prevent wildlife from getting into it.
Have your flock tested for avian flu by your local Department of Agriculture. This service is typically offered for free.
Purchase only birds that are from state-tested or NPIP certified flocks, and quarantine all new birds to monitor for illness before adding them to your current flock.
Avoid interaction with other birds or flocks outside of your own. If you must come into contact with other birds wear gloves and sanitize clothing and footwear.
Clean your coop, feeders, waterers, and other equipment regularly to reduce the risks of illnesses within your own flock.