Maine Animal Health Officials Issue Update Regarding Poultry Swaps and Exhibitions In Response to Bird Flu Cases
— Submitted by Anne Lichtenwalner, DVM Ph.D., University of Maine Associate Professor of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Director of the UMaine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. From Maine.gov’s recent Animal Health Program, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry email notification.
For Immediate Release: July 1, 2022
Media Contact: Jim Britt, firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUSTA — Today, due to another detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Maine in a small, non-commercial group of backyard birds on June 28, Maine Animal Health Officials with the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, announced the continuation of their advisory recommending cancellation or postponement of competitions, exhibitions, shows, swaps, or other in-person events encouraging the gathering or comingling of domestic fowl or poultry.
Advisory: The risk for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) remains high, and bird owners are advised to keep birds indoors to prevent the spread of this disease. The trends observed with past North American HPAI outbreaks are that we often see a reprieve in the summer months. Unfortunately, this is not the pattern observed in the current outbreak. Animal Health Officials in Maine now recommend that all competitions, exhibitions, shows, swaps, or other in-person events encouraging the gathering or comingling of domestic fowl or poultry be postponed until at least 30 days after the last detection of an infected flock in our state.
If organizers proceed with a poultry event, follow these important guidelines for keeping birds and other flocks healthy. Most importantly: if a flock at home is not healthy, DO NOT go to the poultry show. Even if not bringing birds, clothes and footwear could carry disease into this environment. In addition:
- Minimize contact with the birds on exhibit and with their environments
- Wash hands on the way into and out of the exhibit
- Clean and disinfect poultry cages between use
- Keeping gallinaceous (chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl) birds physically separate from waterfowl at the exhibit is strongly recommended. Consider not bringing waterfowl to the exhibit, as they can carry this virus without showing signs of illness.
- Be prepared to respond to suspect or confirmed cases of influenza: document show participant information, make a plan for restricting access to the exhibition barn and keep contact information for state and local veterinarians handy.
The risk assessment for HPAI transmission is ongoing and dependent on dynamic factors such as weather and wild bird migratory patterns. As the southern migration begins this Fall, adjustments to our flock management practices may remain necessary to protect these birds. Keep an eye on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry website for new information about the status of the HPAI outbreak. Recommendations and regulations for Maine’s bird owners can be found on the Animal Health, HPAI Risk Assessment for Maine Flocks page.
For a complete snapshot of HPAI in Maine, the state’s response, a list of frequently asked questions, and additional HPAI resources visit the Animal Health, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) page.
To report sick poultry or unusual domestic bird deaths, call the USDA’s toll-free sick bird hotline at 1.866.536.7593.
To report a strange-acting or dead wild bird, call the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at 207.287.8000. If after hours, contact the ME DIFW regional office at 1.800.452.4664.