DATCP implementing response to contain, eliminate avian influenza virus in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wisconsin –The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced today that it is implementing its plan for a coordinated response with the USDA, state health officials and industry partners following USDA confirmation that more than 180,000 chickens at an egg-laying facility in southeast Wisconsin are infected with H5N2 avian influenza virus.  Multiple outbreaks of avian influenza have occurred most recently in Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, South Dakota and Kansas.  While lethal to birds, the strain of virus detected is not known to have caused disease in humans and is not expected to pose a risk to public health or the food supply.

“We are following strict protocols to contain and eliminate the disease,” said Dr. Paul McGraw, Wisconsin’s State Veterinarian.

The facility was immediately quarantined and neighboring properties with poultry will be notified about the situation.  The remaining chickens in the affected flock will be depopulated and will not enter the food supply.  Following USDA protocols, surveillance and testing procedures are underway at properties near the affected facilities to ensure the virus has not spread.

“Now that we have a confirmation, it’s in a poultry owner’s best interest to take precautions to minimize the effect that this strain of avian influenza will have on their flock,” McGraw says.

McGraw recommends the following six steps for protecting birds from avian influenza:

  1. Keep your distance—Restrict access to your property and keep your birds away from other birds.
  2. Keep it clean—Wash your hands thoroughly before and after working with your birds.  Clean and disinfect equipment.
  3. Don’t haul disease home—Buy birds from reputable sources and keep new birds separated for at least 30 days.
  4. Don’t borrow disease—Do not share equipment or supplies with neighbors or other bird owners.  If you must borrow, disinfect it first.
  5. Know the warning signs—Early detection can help prevent the spread of the disease.  Check your birds frequently.  If you find a sick or dead bird, don’t touch it.
  6. Report sick birds—Don’t wait.  If your birds are sick or dying, call DATCP at 1-800-572-8981.

As a precaution, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is reaching out to monitor workers who may have been exposed to the virus.  DATCP has also been working with the USDA.

The specimens were tested by a National Animal Health Laboratory Network member lab in Missouri and the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa confirmed the finding.

More information about avian influenza is available on DATCP’s website at http://datcp.wi.gov/Animals/Animal_Diseases/Avian_Influenza/index.aspx.