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Health, Science & Environment

Highly contagious bird flu detected in Franklin County

A chicken.
Charlie Neibergall

The highly transmissible bird flu that has been detected in several states in recent months has been spotted in central Ohio.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been detected in a backyard chicken flock in Franklin County.

This follows the detection of bird flu in northwest Ohio a couple of weeks ago.

The Franklin County samples were first tested at the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at a USDA lab in Iowa.

State officials quarantined the affected area and made plans to depopulate the birds.

The disease can infect a variety of poultry and is carried by free-flying waterfowl.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says bird flu does not present an immediate public health concern, and no human cases have been found in the U.S.

Poultry owners are urged to intensify their biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

Biosecurity and best management practices include:

  • Prevent contact with wild birds and waterfowl. Keep birds indoors when possible.
  • Keep visitors to a minimum.Only allow those who care for your poultry to have contact with them and make sure they follow biosecurity principles.
  • Wash your hands before and after contact with live poultry. Use soap and water. If using a hand sanitizer, first remove manure, feathers, and other materials from your hands.
  • Provide disposable boot covers (preferred) and/or disinfectant footbaths for anyone having contact with your flock.If using a footbath, remove all droppings, mud or debris from boots and shoes using a long-handled brush BEFORE stepping in. Always keep it clean.
  • Establish a rodent and pest control program. Deliver, store, and maintain feed, ingredients, bedding, and litter to limit exposure to and contamination from wild animals.
  • Use drinking water sourced from a contained supply (well or municipal system). Do not use surface water for drinking or cleaning.
  • Clean and disinfect tools and equipment before moving them to a new poultry facility. Trucks, tractors, tools, and equipment should be cleaned and disinfected prior to exiting the property. Do not move or reuse anything that cannot be cleaned.
  • Look for signs of illness. Monitor egg production and death loss, discoloration and/or swelling of legs, wattles and combs, labored breathing, reduced feed/water consumption.

If you notice any symptoms or unexpected deaths in your flock, please report them immediately to the Ohio Poultry Association (614.882.6111), or the Ohio Department of Agriculture (regular business hours: 614.728.6220; after-hours: 888.456.3405).

Health, Science & Environment bird fluavian flu
Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.