Updated: Apr 28, 2022
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been identified in Virginia for the first time in over a decade. The first known case involved a sudden die-off in a backyard flock in Fauquier County mid-February. Since that time, it has been identified in several commercial flocks in the mid-Atlantic. Commercial poultry is Virginia’s largest industry and mass depopulation of poultry flocks may be necessary depending on how this disease spreads.
Surveillance is important in controlling HPAI. Owners of backyard flocks can do their part to protect poultry, commercial and otherwise, by submitting birds with unexplained deaths to the state lab (VDACS Harrisonburg) for necropsy. It is also important to pay extra attention to biosecurity at this time. As water fowl, especially wild birds, are often implicated in spreading this virus, efforts should be made to avoid commingling water fowl with chickens and turkeys. Consider the risks when adding new birds to your flock or attending chicken swaps and shows this year.