Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Detected in Massachusetts

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (MDAR) Division of Animal Health is informing the public that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected in Essex County. MDAR and its partner agencies depopulated and disposed of a non-commercial, mixed-species backyard flock (non-poultry) in Essex County due to HPAI. Birds on the affected premises died suddenly without exhibiting any other clinical signs consistent with HPAI, and samples tested positive for the disease.

MDAR advises backyard and commercial poultry owners to practice strong biosecurity measures to prevent domestic poultry from having contact with wild birds, their feathers, and droppings. The HPAI virus is continuing to circulate in the wild bird population, particularly in wild waterfowl. Eliminating standing water and preventing domestic birds from having access to ponds, streams, and wetland areas that attract wild waterfowl are of critical importance.

Additionally, over the past few days, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has received reports of dead and dying wild Canada geese in Essex County and the surrounding coastal areas. These wild birds showed symptoms consistent with HPAI. Several samples have been collected for HPAI testing, and results are pending.

While humans are rarely infected with avian influenza viruses, humans that have prolonged close contact with sick or dead birds infected with HPAI are at the most risk of becoming infected. Officials are urging the public not to handle or feed any birds suspected of being infected. Pet owners should also prevent their dogs from making contact with wild birds.