Kansas officials warn of possible bird flu outbreaks

MANHATTAN (KSNT) – State health officials with the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) are warning local poultry farmers of a recent increase in bird flu cases nationwide.

On Friday, Nov. 3, Heather Lansdowne with the KDA said the fall season is bringing with it an uptick in highly pathogenic avian influenza cases (HPAI). Cases are currently being monitored in areas near Kansas such as Missouri, Oklahoma and Colorado. While the Sunflower State has not confirmed any outbreaks of HPAI since April this year, there remains a chance for outbreaks to occur thanks largely to migrating waterfowl.

Owners of poultry farms both large and small are advised to check their biosecurity procedures to make sure their birds are safe. More information on helpful tips can be found on the KDA’s website.

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Lansdowne said the recent detections of HPAI are not cause for major concern yet as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC keeps live reports of HPAI outbreaks in the U.S. on its website.

In 2022, HPAI was detected in a local flock of backyard birds in Shawnee County, resulting in a quarantine. This came after other positive cases of HPAI were identified in other parts of Kansas, prompting some local zoos to take precautionary measures.

HPAI is a highly contagious viral disease that can infect chickens, turkeys, and other birds and can cause severe illness and/or sudden death in infected birds, according to the KDA. This outbreak has seen illness and mortality in a wider scope of bird species than past outbreaks, including wild and domestic waterfowl.

Symptoms of HPAI include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and other signs of respiratory distress; lack of energy and appetite; decreased water consumption; decreased egg production and/or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs; incoordination; and diarrhea. HPAI can also cause sudden death in birds even if they aren’t showing other symptoms.

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If you see these symptoms in your birds, immediately contact your veterinarian. If you don’t have a regular veterinarian, contact the KDA’s Division of Animal Health office toll-free at 833-765-2006. The KDA also updates its website with areas where HPAI is detected.

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