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Two Vermont bald eagles tested positive for highly pathogenic avian flu

Vermont Business Magazine With the unfortunate discovery of a dead bald eagle in North Hero and a sick bald eagle in Shelburne on March 29, Vermont joined 33 other states across the country in the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the environment.

Bald eagles have been found near Lake Champlain in both cities. Sampling was done by USDA Wildlife Services and testing was done for the presence of HPAI at the National Veterinary Services laboratory in Ames, Iowa. The discovery reinforces the important public message of awareness and vigilance for poultry owners, farmers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to not only report sick and dead birds, but to recognize the dangers of HPAI to our small backyard poultry owners and commercial operators.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to the general public from this HPAI virus to be low, but the virus is fatal to domestic and commercial poultry and backyard birds. All bird owners are strongly encouraged to review the biosecurity measures below to help protect their flocks.

For the farming community and poultry owners:

The HPAI virus is often initially introduced into domestic poultry by infected wild birds, through direct contact or contact with their droppings, and then can spread between poultry flocks due to poor biosecurity and/or unfavorable environmental conditions . While some species of waterfowl can carry the disease without becoming ill, the HPAI virus is generally fatal to domestic poultry. Risk factors for spreading HPAI include:

  • Poultry housed outdoors
  • Ponds or other attractants for wild birds on the farm
  • Piles of debris located near poultry areas
  • Introduction of poultry from other farms without a quarantine period
  • Lack of personal protective equipment such as dedicated suits and boots
  • Sharing equipment between farms
  • Unrestricted human movement and interaction with poultry

Anyone involved in poultry production, from small backyard cooperative to large commercial grower, should review their biosecurity activities to ensure the health of their birds, limit human movement to the farm and limit contact with poultry to those who need to be there. Non-essential staff and visitors should not be allowed.

The USDA has biosafety materials including videos, checklists, and a toolkit available here. In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, the Agency of Vermont Agriculture, Food and Markets at 802-828-2421 or via the USDA toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593 as soon as possible. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found here.

For the fish and wildlife community:

If you are hunting wild birds during Vermont’s available hunting seasons, please keep those advices in mind. Be sure to review the avian flu bulletin in the Wildlife Diseases section of our website for the most up-to-date information on reporting possible cases and safety measures.

For Vermonters:

No human infection with this HPAI virus has been detected in the United States, and residents of Vermont can take these steps to prevent infection. Influenza in poultry is not a food safety risk. Vermont residents are urged to be alert for dead or sick birds and to alert the USDA or Vermont authorities at 802-828-2421 or via the USDA toll-free number at 1-866-536- 7593 as soon as possible.

4.8.2022. Montpelier, VT – Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife


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