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North Dakota has its first case of avian influenza in a Kidder County backyard chicken flock

The HPAI case in Kidder County is North Dakota's first since 2015.

Chickens
Highly pathogenic avian influenza was found in a Kidder County, North Dakota, backyard chicken flock.
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BISMARCK, N.D. — The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Wednesday, March 30, confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a non-commercial, backyard chicken flock in Kidder County, North Dakota.

A presumptive positive case was first identified by the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed by the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture said the premises have been quarantined and the flock was depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Domestic birds in a 10 kilometer control zone around the affected farm are being contacted and monitored to help prevent the spread of HPAI. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system. An APHIS database listing HPAI cases was not immediately updated to include the North Dakota case, including the size of the flock.

While it is the first case of HPAI in a commercial or backyard flock in North Dakota, the disease was confirmed to have been found in wild snow geese in Burleigh County on March 24 . Avian influenza exists in many wild birds and can be transmitted by contact with infected birds or ingestion of infected food and water.

The risk to people from HPAI is low despite the disease often being fatal for birds. No human infections with these viruses have been detected in the U.S.

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“Poultry owners should immediately report unusual death loss, a drop in egg production or sick birds to their local veterinarian to decrease the impact HPAI may have on the region,” North Dakota State Veterinarian Dr. Ethan Andress said. “Remember to restrict access to property, keep wild birds away from other birds and practice enhanced biosecurity. Hunters who are also bird owners should dress game birds in the field whenever possible and use dedicated footwear and tools to clean game.”

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring in a statement said it's the state's first case of HPAI since 2015.

“Protecting our North Dakota producers, who raise approximately 1 million commercial birds yearly, and our many backyard bird owners is high priority,” he said.

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture said there are nine turkey farms in the state, which produce around 1 million birds annually, in addition to any backyard poultry flocks.

Nearby states also have been dealing with outbreaks of HPAI. Numerous outbreaks have been reported in Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota .

The last major outbreak of avian influenza occurred in 2015, resulting in the death of nearly 50 million birds. More than 9 million birds in Minnesota were either killed by the disease or euthanized to prevent its spread, with a total cost to the state estimated at $650 million.

The poultry industry has been concerned about a possible repeat of 2015 . Experts have warned that backyard flocks seem particularly at risk to this year's strain .

Jenny Schlecht is the editor of Agweek and Sugarbeet Grower Magazine. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at jschlecht@agweek.com or 701-595-0425.
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