Prevent Contact With Wild Birds: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Situational Report

Backyard Flock and Commercial Operators Are Urged to Prevent Contact Between Domestic and Wild Birds

AUGUSTA, ME — The risk for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) remains high in Maine, and backyard flock and commercial operators are urged to prevent contact between domestic and wild birds by bringing them indoors and ensuring their outdoor areas are fully enclosed.

Since February 2022, USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories have confirmed the presence of HPAI in seventeen Maine non-commercial backyard flocks (non-poultry) located in Knox, Lincoln, York, Washington, Waldo, Cumberland, Hancock, and Kennebec Counties, and one non-commercial backyard flock (poultry) in Cumberland County. All confirmed cases are listed on the APHIS website.

Four properties, two in Hancock County and one each in Kennebec and Washington Counties are currently under quarantine. No surveillance zones are being placed around non-poultry premises per USDA policy changes implemented during November 2022.

Resources for backyard flock and commercial flock owners

HPAI Common Questions

Q: How do I protect my flock from HPAI?
A: The best approach is to practice good biosecurity – this means keeping your birds separate from sources of disease, such as infected wild birds and their environment.

Q: What are the signs of HPAI in birds?
A: Sudden death without clinical signs; Lack of energy and appetite; Decreased egg production or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; Swelling of the head, comb, eyelid, wattles, and hocks; Purple discoloration of wattles, comb, and legs; Nasal discharge, coughing, and sneezing; Incoordination; or Diarrhea.

Q: What should I do if I have sick birds or large mortality in my flock?
A: Report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through your state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

Q: Can people contract AI?
A: No cases of this particular strain of the avian influenza virus have been detected in humans in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recent detections of this strain of influenza in birds in Maine and several other states present a low risk to the public.

Q: Does HPAI present a food safety risk?
A: No, poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly.

Q: Is compensation offered to impacted flock owners?
A: Yes. Refer to the USDA APHIS website (PDF) to learn what is covered and how the process works.

Avian Influenza and Human Health

DACF’s Animal Health team is also working closely with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC). Though this strain of avian influenza has not been detected in humans in the United States, Maine CDC is monitoring the health and wellbeing of Animal Health staff and flock owners who were exposed out of an abundance of caution. Signs and symptoms of bird flu infections in people can include fever (temperature of 100F or greater) or feeling feverish, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, fatigue, headaches, eye redness (or conjunctivitis), and difficulty breathing. Other possible symptoms are diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. As with seasonal flu, some people are at high risk of getting very sick from bird flu infections, including pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and people 65 and older. The U.S. CDC provides information on avian flu transmission at this link. The Maine CDC’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory is prepared to process samples and quickly provide results for anyone potentially exposed to the virus.

For a snapshot of HPAI in Maine, the state’s response, a list of frequently asked questions, and additional HPAI resources, visit the 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 deadwild bird, call the MDIFW at (207) 287-8000. After-hours, evenings, and weekend, please call (800) 452-4664.

For more information contact: Jim Britt at:

— From a media release from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, February 9, 2023. Submitted by Colt Knight, Ph.D., University of Maine Associate Extension Professor and State Livestock Specialist.