In a specially called meeting of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health to consider emergency rules for controlling highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza virus, it was unanimously decided that all bird movements in Indiana to events that allow comingling of birds from different locations will be prohibited until further notice. Denise Derrer is with BOAH.
“It was a difficult decision to make but everyone was in agreement. The science is behind this and says it’s something we need to do just to protect all the birds in the state of Indiana.”
She said this applies to every species of bird.
“This applies beyond poultry and includes quail, exotic birds, other species as well.”
The action does not apply to private sales between individuals but the halt in movement will affect fairs, shows, exhibitions and public sales
“So this will mean that birds should not be going to any county fairs, it applies to state fair, and it also applies to swap meets, sale barns, flea markets, those types of places where people may go and sell birds back and forth.”
BOAH says the plan is temporary and would like 4-H’ers and bird enthusiasts to get back to business as usual as soon as possible. A designed public comment opportunity might help with that.
“The question is how do we do that in a way that’s safe and healthy for the birds. So we are launching in June a place on our website where the public can comment. We’ll take comments from anybody as far as what they feel we can do to get rid of this ban and make it a better situation for the birds, whether that be testing individual birds before each exhibition or sale. It could be differences in the way they are displayed, or showed, or taken there, so we’re open to any creative ideas or creative thinking.”
But Derrer says BOAH wants people to know the ban could last through the end of the year, and maybe even beyond.
“At the rate that things are going right now with the high path AI situation in the upper Midwest, we’re not seeing this slowing down anytime soon,” she told HAT. “So we’re just trying to get folks in the mindset to be prepared, that this could take awhile.”
Indiana State Veterinarian Bret D. Marsh, DVM added, “This was not a decision made lightly. The spread of the H5 viruses has been unprecedented, and our goal is to protect the health of small, backyard poultry flocks as much as our commercial industry from this disease.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), while deadly to domestic poultry, does not present a food safety threat, and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has stated the virus poses little risk to human health.
Sixteen states, primarily in the Upper Midwest, have had diagnosed cases of HPAI, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 million birds. Indiana had a single, backyard flock diagnosed earlier this month.
Poultry owners who notice illness in their birds consistent with avian influenza are encouraged to call the Healthy Birds Hotline at 866-536-7593 to speak with a state or federal veterinarian.
Hoosiers who notice five or more dead feeder-type wild birds should contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources at 812-334-1137.
More information about Indiana’s response to HPAI is online at: www.in.gov/boah/2390.htm.