MADISON COUNTY, Ark. — Testing has confirmed that a case of avian influenza, or bird flu, was detected on a poultry farm in Madison County.
The USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory stated that chickens from the farm tested positive for highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI)— which is more severe and can cause high mortality in poultry flocks.
Bird flu is an airborne respiratory virus that can spread easily among chickens through manure or nasal and eye secretions.
The virus can be spread in a number of ways, including through wild birds, contact with infected poultry, flock to flock, by equipment, and even on the clothing or shoes of caretakers.
Officials noted that avian influenza is not a public health concern— it does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which will remain safe to eat.
Arkansas State Veterinarian John Nilz said that they have quarantined the farm to prevent the virus from spreading to other poultry flocks in the state.
“The birds on the affected farm were depopulated to prevent the spread of disease and will not enter the food system,” Nilz added.
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture teamed up with the USDA and other partner agencies to contain the situation by sampling and quarantining nearby poultry flocks.
“We have taken immediate action to contain this disease and will continue to work with poultry growers, the industry, and our laboratory partners to protect against its spread,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.
Officials have advised all poultry flock owners to follow the following steps in order to prevent further spreading:
- Limit, monitor, and record all movement of people, vehicles, or animals on or off your farm
- Permit only essential workers and vehicles to enter the farm to limit the chances of bringing the virus from an outside source
- Avoid visiting other poultry farms and any unnecessary travel off the farm
- Disinfect equipment, vehicles, footwear, and any items that come into contact with flocks
- Keep your flock away from wild or migratory birds, especially waterfowl
- Isolate any sick animals and contact your veterinarian
Backyard flock owners who have sick or unusual deaths in their flocks should immediately email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (501) 823-1746.
For more information on bird flu, please visit the USDA's website.