Around New England

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Detected In Massachusetts

February 7, 2024

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ Division of Animal Health announced via a press release this week the detection of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Essex County.

The state agency said it took necessary action to depopulate and dispose of a non-commercial, mixed-species backyard flock of non-poultry birds in Essex County due to the virus. The birds on the premises died suddenly without displaying any other clinical signs indicative of of the virus, the agency said. However, testing on the dead birds confirmed the presence of the disease.

“MDAR advises backyard and commercial poultry owners to practice strong biosecurity measures to prevent domestic poultry from having contact with wild birds, their feathers, and droppings,” the press release said. “The HPAI virus is continuing to circulate in the wild bird population, particularly in wild waterfowl. Eliminating standing water and preventing domestic birds from having access to ponds, streams, and wetland areas that attract wild waterfowl is of critical importance.”

Additionally, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (also known as MassWildlife) recently got reports that wild Canada geese in Essex County displayed symptoms consistent with the virus.

“While humans are rarely infected with avian influenza viruses, humans that have prolonged close contact with sick or dead birds infected with HPAI are at the most risk of becoming infected,” the press release said. “Officials are urging the public not to handle or feed any birds suspected of being infected. Pet owners should also prevent their dogs from making contact with wild birds.”


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