Vermont warns of bird flu as cases circulate in the region

A warning for owners of all birds -- flocks small and large. Bird flu has been detected in our region, although not yet here in Vermont.
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 6:57 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A warning for owners of all birds, flocks small and large. Bird flu has been detected in our region, although not yet here in Vermont.

Avian influenza has been found in places like Canada, New Hampshire, Maine and Long Island, New York. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is looking to farmers here in Vermont to be on alert to stop the spread.

“We are always concerned about any sort of disease that could get into our flock,” said Bruce Hennessey with Maple Wind Farm.

Hennessey says with the flu circulating near Vermont, it’s too great of a risk to not take it seriously.

“It would just stop us dead in our tracks. We’d be done,” said Hennessey.

It spreads fast and can kill a whole flock if infected. The state’s stance is to not let that happen to any farmer.

“It’s important to start with we do not have detection of avian influenza in Vermont,” Assistant State Veterinarian Kaitlynn Levine said.

Levine says right now it’s about prevention.

“We are about raising awareness and alert in our producers, so they can protect their own flocks from it coming,” said Levine.

Levine says biosecurity is the top priority. That means:

  • Limiting connections between flocks.
  • Keeping outsiders, birds and people away from your flocks.
  • Using specific boots or shoes and equipment when tending to the birds.
  • Washing your hands before and after you come in contact with your birds.

Levine says self-reporting is also key.

“Reporting should you notice any unexplained deaths or illness in your birds, that you are calling us at the state so we can come out and investigate,” said Levine.

Levine says even trying to prevent wild birds, like migrating ducks, from mingling with your flock is important.

Hennessey says moving your flock is a good start.

“Pull them out, put them in a different space and completely sanitize where they are staying,” said Hennessey.

Hennessey says rotating their birds to fresh grass daily has been effective in keeping them healthy. He says they have handled bird flu in the past, but that doesn’t mean they can let their guard down.

“We take steps every year to mitigate that problem,” said Hennessey.

The CDC does say the risk to the general public from this virus is low, and influenza in birds doesn’t constitute a food safety risk.

If you do encounter a sick or dead bird, they do recommend reaching out to the USDA or Vermont authorities. You can call VAAFM at 802-828-2421 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

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