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Disease Information

Influenza is a virus that can infect humans and many animal species, including poultry and other birds. Influenza is not uncommon and it has been around for centuries. Influenza in poultry is not a food safety issue.

Influenza in poultry falls into two groups: low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), or highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Similar to influenza symptoms in people, birds infected with LPAI usually experience only mild signs if any, including respiratory signs such as conjunctivitis and nasal discharge, ruffled feathers or a drop in egg production. Unlike LPAI, the first indication of HPAI in poultry is sudden death, often without signs of illness. In the last 40 years, there have been introductions of LPAI in Minnesota poultry all of which have been successfully eliminated.

The Board continues to work together with Minnesota’s poultry industry and other state and federal agencies to prepare for and respond to introductions of influenza in poultry. The state’s voluntary cooperative control plan includes education, monitoring, reporting, and response. Testing for influenza in poultry is conducted at the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory in Willmar. Commercial and non-commercial poultry flocks are routinely monitored for influenza.

Testing and Reporting

Reporting

It is extremely important for backyard flock owners and poultry producers to report sick or dead birds. Reports can be made in the following ways:

  • Call 320-231-5170
  • Fill out our online form
  • Contact your veterinarian or the Board of Animal Health

If you notice any of the following in your flock, a report should be made immediately:

  • Unusual or high death loss
  • Influenza-like signs such as nasal secretions, puffy eyes, ruffled feathers or a drop in egg production
  • Loss of appetite with decreased food and water consumption
  • Paralysis and other nervous signs
  • Lack of vocalization

Testing

Samples for official AI testing must be collected by individuals trained and certified as authorized poultry testing agents. Once samples are collected, they can be submitted to one of two diagnostic laboratories in Minnesota. The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory are approved for testing samples for avian influenza by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). For detailed information on sample submission and testing for AI PCR, contact:

University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Phone: 800-605-8787

Vdl@umn.edu

Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory

Phone: 320-231-5170

Biosecurity

Protecting your birds from disease has always been important. However, taking biosecurity to the next level is now more crucial than ever. As we work together to eliminate HPAI and add strength to Minnesota’s poultry industry, there are small steps you can take that will have a big impact.

  1. Eliminate opportunities for your birds to interact with wild birds. We know that wild waterfowl are carriers of disease, including HPAI. The best way to avoid diseases that wildlife carry is to keep domestic animals separated from the wild.
  2. If you have birds at home, do not visit another farm, home or facility that also has birds. If you must visit another premises, be sure to shower and put on clean clothes and shoes beforehand.
  3. Remember that vehicles can be vehicles for disease transmission. Before you drive down the road, consider where you are going. Will you be heading to the fair, another farm or a live bird market? If the answer is yes, be sure your vehicle is clean and free of dirt, manure and other organic material.
  4. Early detection can help prevent the spread of disease. Knowing the signs to look for and monitoring the health of your birds on a regular basis is very important. Some signs to look for include nasal discharge, unusually quiet birds, decreased food and water consumption, drop in egg production, and increased/unusual death loss in your flock.
  5. Report sick and dead birds to state health officials immediately. If your birds appear sick or you have experienced increased mortality, fill out our online report form.

USDA's "Defend The Flock"

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides resources for the poultry industry to keep birds healthy. There are biosecurity assessments for farmers, disease preparedness planning guides, and many more helpful resources for anyone in the poultry industry, from backyard producers to commercial flocks. Click here to access the Defend The Flock website.