An open backyard case of avian influenza reported in St. Louis County this month does not appear to have affected the state’s commercial flocks. Missouri’s Agriculture Department is working to better understand Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), sometimes known as bird flu, and how the virus can change from season-to-season.
Director Chris Chinn explained what happens if an outbreak affects a farm.
“We do have a control zone around that farm where we do reach out to all the producers of the same species to let them know that there has been an outbreak in that area,” Chinn said. “So, we do have that communication process. Sometimes you have ten people you notify, sometimes you don’t have anybody that you need to notify.”
She said the protocols her department follows are set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and they are working to prevent the chance of a ‘spillover’ from wild birds into domestic poultry.
“Some of them are low strains that are not as highly contagious as what we’re seeing right now with the higher strain of the high path (avian influenza) and so it has been extremely contagious,” she said. “We’ve seen it happen in the European Union as well.”
HPAI can affect all birds, including wild birds like hawks and geese, and domestic birds such as chickens and turkeys.
Chinn said the USDA is researching the deadly virus.
“What they have found is that it’s happening in older barns that maybe have some loose fittings and opportunities for wildlife to actually get close to the ventilation intakes and things of that nature,” she said.
The St. Louis County case was reported on December 12th and has impacted about 20 birds.
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