WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been confirmed in wild waterfowl in central Kansas by the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

This is the first confirmed case of HPAI in Kansas since 2015.

“Confirmed HPAI in wild birds in central Kansas is an indication that Kansas birds are at risk of exposure from the wild migratory bird population,” said Animal Health Commissioner Justin Smith. “We’ve encouraged Kansas poultry owners to be aware of this possibility, but now the reality is all poultry owners need to be vigilant in taking steps to protect their flocks from avian influenza. If you haven’t implemented biosecurity practices yet, the time to do it is now.”

Biosecurity refers to practices that prevent possible contamination, according to the KDA. For poultry, the KDA says biosecurity practices include the following:

  • Prevent contact with wild birds, especially wild waterfowl. Remove any potential nesting areas for wild birds.
  • Cover and enclose outdoor feeding areas, and cover stored feed.
  • Take all possible steps to separate wild birds from having any access to your flock or their living area.
  • Clean and disinfect any vehicle tires or equipment that has been on other farms or other locations where there is poultry or wild birds.
  • Wear clean clothing, boots and shoes when in contact with your flock.
  • Restrict unauthorized people and vehicles.
  • Isolate new birds.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is a highly contagious viral disease that can infect chickens, turkeys, and other birds and can cause severe illness and/or sudden death, according to KDA.

The KDA says HPAI has been identified in backyard flocks as well as commercial operations in neighboring states; at this time, it has not been detected in domestic birds in Kansas.

The KDA is recommending that bird owners in Kansas attentively monitor their birds for symptoms of HPAI, which 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. Avian influenza can also cause sudden death in birds even if they aren’t showing other symptoms.

If these symptoms are observed in your birds, the KDA says to immediately contact your veterinarian. If you don’t have a regular veterinarian, contact KDA’s Division of Animal Health office toll-free at 833-765-2006.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the U.S. Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk. Poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly.

The KDA says as part of existing avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in areas around the affected flock. The U.S. has the strongest avian influenza surveillance program in the world, and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.

For more information about HPAI, including the current status of the confirmed cases in other states, as well as more information about biosecurity for your flock, go to the KDA’s avian influenza webpage at agriculture.ks.gov/AvianInfluenza or call KDA at 833-765-2006.