Broomfield, Colo. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) has confirmed the detection of Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus in a commercial poultry operation in Montrose County. 

Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk; poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly. No human cases of avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.

On April 15, 2022, the State Veterinarian’s office was notified of a mortality event at a commercial broiler breeder facility in Montrose County. Samples were submitted to the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for preliminary testing, with confirmation of HPAI made by NVSL on April 19, 2022. The 60,000 bird flock is being euthanized to control the spread of the virus.

The State Veterinarian has issued a Quarantine Order in parts of Montrose and Delta Counties to limit movement of birds in and out of the area. Commercial and backyard poultry operations within the Quarantine Area are required to halt any movement of poultry and poultry products, as defined in the order, in and out of the area. Those within the Quarantine Area will receive a notification through Montrose County’s emergency notification system. To receive alerts from Montrose County, please sign up for Montrose Code Red alerts here

“The Colorado Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the USDA as well as state and local emergency management personnel, has set up a quarantine perimeter in Montrose County to prevent further spread of HPAI. We are working with producers in that region to implement measures to protect flocks in close proximity to the infected premises,” said Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Maggie Baldwin. “Avian influenza has a high mortality rate and flock owners should actively monitor their birds for clinical signs of HPAI, such as ruffled feathers or swelling and purple discoloration of the comb, wattles, eyelids and legs. Anyone who notices any signs of illness or disease in their flocks should immediately notify the State Veterinarian’s office at (303) 869-9130.”

Poultry owners across Colorado are advised to review and increase their biosecurity measures and monitor their flocks for clinical signs of HPAI. Bird owners should immediately report any illness or death in their flocks to the Colorado State Veterinarian’s office. Dead birds should be double-bagged and refrigerated for possible testing, away from human food or other avian products. 

HPAI has a mortality rate of 90%-100% within just a few days, so flock surveillance and disease reporting is critical to containing the spread of the virus. Clinical signs of HPAI include: sudden death without clinical signs; lack of energy or appetite; decreased egg production; soft‐shelled or misshapen eggs; swelling or purple discoloration of head, eyelids, comb, hocks; nasal discharge; coughing; sneezing; incoordination; and diarrhea.  

CDA is coordinating with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Montrose County, and other state and local partners for response. To see additional resources for bird owners and to track confirmed cases, visit ag.colorado.gov/hpai.

Bird owners struggling with stress or anxiety around HPAI can contact Colorado Crisis Services by calling 1-844-494-TALK (8255) or texting TALK to 38255. Farmers and ranchers can receive a voucher for six free sessions with an ag-competent provider through the Colorado Agricultural Addiction and Mental Health Program (campforhealth.com). 

By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.