Bernalillo County birds test positive for avian flu - Albuquerque Journal

Bernalillo County birds test positive for avian flu

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

A non-commercial flock of chickens and ducks in Bernalillo County has tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, the New Mexico Agriculture Department said Thursday.

About 40 birds were affected in the state’s first case of avian influenza this year.

Alexandra Eckhoff, a veterinarian with the New Mexico Livestock Board, said the state submitted tests from the flock to a national lab after the landowner called to report the sick and dying birds.

“It’s not uncommon for the occasional chicken to die,” Eckhoff said. “But when we end up having anything that’s a bump up in mortality at such a large rate, then that sets off alarm bells.”

The birds were for household use only, and they would not have entered the food system.

Almost all of the chickens and ducks died from the infection within a few days. State officials disposed of the remaining birds to prevent the virus from spreading.

“It is not a human health hazard, but it is a disease that will decimate a flock very, very quickly,” Eckhoff said.

After the U.S. reported the year’s first avian influenza case in February, New Mexico officials started testing domestic birds that had been reported as sick or dying off rapidly.

This week’s case was the first confirmed positive test result.

Eckhoff said the disease is typically spread through wild waterfowl like ducks or geese.

People with domestic birds should work to keep wild birds away from their food and water sources.

The state will continue surveillance testing, but the wild birds complicate matters.

“These are migratory birds for the most part, so likely they are far gone by the time we end up determining there’s an issue in a certain area,” Eckhoff said.

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