Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Information
What is HPAI?
Avian influenza refers to infection of birds with avian influenza Type A viruses. These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. Wild aquatic birds can be infected with avian influenza A viruses in their intestines and respiratory tract but usually do not get sick. However, avian influenza A viruses are very contagious among birds and some of these viruses can sicken and even kill certain domesticated bird species including chickens, ducks, and turkeys.
Infected birds can shed avian influenza A viruses in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with the virus as it is shed by infected birds. They also can become infected through contact with surfaces that are contaminated with the virus from infected birds.
Avian influenza A viruses are classified into the following two categories: low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) A viruses, and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A viruses. The categories refer to molecular characteristics of a virus and the virus’ ability to cause disease and mortality in chickens in a laboratory setting. Infection of poultry with LPAI viruses may cause no disease or mild illness (such as ruffled feathers and a drop in egg production) and may not be detected. Infection of poultry with HPAI viruses can cause severe disease with high mortality. Both HPAI and LPAI viruses can spread rapidly through poultry flocks. However, some ducks can be infected without any signs of illness.
Please note, infectious material can travel on just a small piece of manure.
When H5 or H7 avian influenza outbreaks occur in poultry, depopulation of infected flocks is usually carried out. In addition, surveillance of flocks that are nearby or linked to the infected flock(s), and quarantine of exposed flocks with culling if disease is detected are the preferred control and eradication methods.
How do I look for infected birds on my farm?
Signs of Bird Flu:
Sudden death without any clinical signs
Runny nose, coughing, sneezing
Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks
Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, and legs
Stumbling or falling down
Lack of energy and appetite
Decreased egg production and/or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs
What do I do if I find an infected bird on my farm?
If you are a contract producer, contact the processor immediately.
Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) Emergency Number. Press option 1 to reach the veterinarian on call.
Contact the USDA. USDA operates a toll-free hotline with veterinarians to help you
Contact Wenger so we can immediately take necessary precautions.
For state permitting questions, call:
or email: RA-AG-PAPERMITS@PA.GOV
What can I do to prevent disease spreading?
COMMON SENSE BIOSECURITY MEASURES
1. Keep Your Distance. Restrict access to your property and your animals and post a biosecurity sign. Have a specific area where visitors can enter. Visitors should not be allowed near your animals unless necessary, and then visitors should be wearing clean footwear (disposable boot covers work well) and clothes (supply for them). An area should be available for visitors to change clothes and provide shower-in, shower-out facilities if possible. Require and teach biosecurity to family, employees, and all visitors coming into, or involved with your production area.
2. Keep It Clean. You, your staff, and family should always follow biosecurity procedures for cleanliness. Wear clean clothes, scrub boots/shoes with disinfectant or use separate, dedicated footwear for inside contact with animals, and wash hands thoroughly. Equipment and vehicles should be kept clean, and insist all equipment and vehicles be cleaned before entering your property. Maintain programs to control birds, rodents, and flies that can carry and spread disease.
3. Don’t Haul Disease Home. If you, your employees, or family have been on other farms, other places where there is livestock and/or poultry, or someplace where fellow farm personnel congregate, clean and disinfect your vehicle tires and equipment before returning home. Always change clothes and wash hands before returning to your animals.
4. Don’t Borrow Disease from Your Neighbor. Do not share equipment, tools, or other supplies with your neighbors or other livestock or poultry owners. If sharing equipment, be sure to clean and disinfect before returning to your property.
5. Look for Signs of Infectious Diseases. Know what diseases are of concern for your flock or herd and be on the lookout for symptoms. Assess the health of your flock or herd daily. Early detection is important to prevent the spread of disease.
6. Report Sick Animals – Don’t Wait. Report serious or unusual animal health problems to your service person, veterinarian, local extension office, animal owner, or State or Federal Animal Health officials. USDA operates a toll-free hotline (1-866-536-7593) with veterinarians to help you.
November 2023 update
While Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been in decline over the summer, testing confirms that the disease is still circulating in migratory waterfowl and recently infected a commercial flock in Maryland.
For this reason, we have returned our truck disinfecting foaming stations into operation at all our mills. This change should be effective by the end of the day, November 22, 2023. These procedures are in addition to the on-board disinfecting units on each truck and the disinfection procedures currently in use by our drivers.
The use of disposable boot covers by our drivers and on-board truck disinfecting units on feed deliveries will, of course, continue. We remain committed to high biosecurity and protecting your business.
The Wenger Group HPAI Response
While we maintain high levels of biosecurity at all times, we have enhanced our procedures in response to this threat with the following measures:
- If we are the feed supplier to an infected farm, we will immediately activate our Red Alert disinfect procedure, which includes the following steps:
o Using disposable boots and coveralls for each delivery that are left on the farm
o Disinfecting the soles of shoes, floor mat, and pedals of the truck
o Not allowing any flies inside the cab and disinfecting any tools used on the farm
o Completely disinfecting the truck prior to leaving the farm property using our onboard disinfecting system to spray down the entire tractor and trailer.
o If at all possible, not allowing the driver to exit the cab of the truck during the feed unloading process by utilizing our remote boom controls & camera systems.
- Using disposable boots for all feed deliveries until further notice. All farms will now need an on-site waste container as drivers will be leaving the boots on the farm. Please secure the container so it doesn’t blow away.
- Increasing our stock of PPE and disinfectant to accommodate an increased use of these supplies.
- Completed technical evaluation of our disinfectants to ensure efficacy and safety.
- Erected biosecurity STOP signs and started disinfecting inbound truck traffic at our milling facilities. Including:
- Automated spraying systems on all our rolling stock
- Hand pump sprayers in our light vehicles
- Disinfecting stations to comply with the Clean Conveyance Act.
- Installing more automatic foaming disinfecting units as they arrive. We have 4 installed (3 are in use at our Rheems and Mount Joy Mills) with 7 more foaming units in the process of being deployed at our other mills.
– Canceling all farm visits, unless absolutely necessary, until further notice.
– Limiting visits to our office and all of our mills by our internal personnel.
– Canceling scheduled visits by our consulting veterinarians.
– Registering permits for all impacted locations within the control zone and logging each movement in the Emergency Management Response System (EMRS) gateway.
– Proactively meeting with PennAg and the Pennsylvania Dept of Ag to hold other industry participants to a higher level of biosecurity and strengthen weak links in our industry.
– Feed trucks are being disinfected three times on each delivery (before farm driveway entry, upon farm driveway exit, and across our foaming station when returning to the feed mill), and our drivers are utilizing disposable boots for each
- Enhanced education to our customers, team members, and communities in which we operate through direct communication channels as well as highlighting HPAI and Biosecurity through our newsletters, social media, and websites.
- We published a special edition of our Mill-O-Gram newsletter dedicated to HPAI. https://www.wengerfeeds.com/about/newsletter-media/
While we cannot predict or prevent wild bird migration overhead, we are committed to doing everything in our operation to prevent the spread of this terrible disease.
What are the latest national / international updates?
This publication was developed in the DE-MD HPAI Joint Information Center to help poultry farmers understand what to expect in the first 72 hours if they suspect their flock has avian influenza.
USDA APHIS Wildlife Practices
Bird Migration Forecasts
Questions? Contact us! 1-800-692-6008
The Wenger Group | 101 West Harrisburg Avenue | Rheems, PA 17570