By AJ Dome
MANHATTAN — Kansas Department of Agriculture animal health experts are monitoring a 12-mile zone around two central Kansas facilities after the agency identified the presence of the highly pathogenic avian influenza.
The state agency announced Tuesday that members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service found cases of the avian flu, or HPAI, in two egg-laying facilities, one in McPherson County and one in Rice County. The total number of case in Kansas this fall is now up to five, with 21 cases in the state since environmental officials noted the start of the outbreak last year.
KDA officials said in a statement that employees at both facilities immediately contacted the agency upon finding clinical signs of the avian flu in their bird populations. Both facilities had increased their biosecurity efforts last year to cope with rising cases of HPAI. The affected areas are under quarantine and the birds that were infected were humanely euthanized to prevent the disease from spreading.
In addition to the quarantine, KDA officials set up a 12.5-mile surveillance zone around the areas where the infected birds were found. Other farms and properties in that zone will not be allowed to move birds or poultry products without permission from the KDA. The agency’s animal health experts are contacting poultry owners in the area to update them on the situation and educate them on the symptoms of HPAI.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza can infect chickens, turkeys and other birds, typically causing severe illness and death upon infection. Poultry owners are encouraged to monitor for signs of the virus among their birds, including coughing, sneezing and respiratory distress, a lack of energy and appetite, misshapen or soft-shelled eggs, and diarrhea. Some birds can suddenly die due to HPAI, if they aren’t showing other symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPAI cases do not represent a major public health or food safety concern.
Poultry owners living in McPherson or Rice counties are encouraged to contact KDA officials at 833-765-2006 or [email protected] to report any issues or learn more about HPAI.