WARNING FOR DOMESTIC BIRD OWNERS AND WILDLIFE BIRDS:
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is a highly contagious and deadly strain of H5N1 avian influenza or “bird flu” which can affect both wild birds including song birds and geese and domestic birds including chickens, ducks, turkeys and guinea fowl. HPAI can also transmit to pet bird species.
HPAI is present throughout the Eastern United States and has been detected in three locations in Connecticut (as of early 2022). HPAI was recently confirmed in wild mallard ducks in Middlesex and New London counties, in addition to a flock of backyard chickens in Long Island. Although the H5N1 virus primarily affects birds, it can also spread to people.
Symptoms of Avian Influenza in Bird Species can include:
- Death without prior clinical signs
- Swelling of head, eyelids, neck, wattles, combs, or hocks
- Discoloration (purple appearance) of wattles, combs, or hocks
- Lethargy and lack of appetite
- Stumbling and falling
- Coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge
- Respiratory distress such as gasping for air
- Decreased egg production and soft, thin-shelled, or misshapen eggs
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your domestic bird or flock, please immediately call Kensington Bird and Animal Hospital at 860-828-7736 or the Connecticut State Veterinarian at 860-713-2505. DO NOT WAIT!
Deceased Wildlife Birds and Suspected Cases:
If you have found a deceased songbird, do not touch it with your bare hands. It should be disposed of properly either by burying with a shovel or placed in a double-bag and placed in your garbage receptacle. The DEEP is not collecting songbirds, birds likely to be hit by a car, or birds that are found deceased. Wildlife bird deaths can be reported on the DEEP website at DEEP’s Wild Bird Mortality Database for data purposes only.
The CT DEEP, CT Department of Agriculture, and USDA continue to conduct passive surveillance throughout the state on waterfowl and poultry. If you see a neurologic bird and it is a waterfowl, shorebird, or raptor it should be reported by calling the DEEP Wildlife Division 860-424-3011.
Protecting yourself and your flock by reducing potential exposure, proper hygiene, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) are the only ways to prevent the spread of HPAI. There are no vaccinations for HPAI.
Safety Recommendations Include:
- Keep domestic birds and flocks inside if possible
- Reduce exposure of flock to wildlife birds
- Do not add new birds to an established flock
- Wash your clothes, shoes, equipment, and hands after contacting your birds
- Wear proper ppe including mask, gloves, and gown when handling sick birds
- Properly sanitize equipment and supplies between use