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Avian influenza found in New Haven county

Infection is deadly to birds, but nationwide, there's only been one minor case in humans.
Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File
FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2015, file photo, cage-free chickens walk in a fenced pasture at an organic farm near Waukon, Iowa.

HARTFORD, Conn. — An avian flu virus that is deadly to birds, but not humans, was found Tuesday in a backyard flock of poultry in New Haven county. 

The state Department of Agriculture sent samples to the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab for testing for Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Those results were confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.

According to the Department of Agriculture, avian influenza does not present an immediate public health concern.

"Only one detection in a human has occurred in the United States, and the individual exhibited minor symptoms," officials said in a statement. 

"All poultry owners and producers to remain vigilant in protecting their backyard and commercial poultry flocks against HPAI," said officials.

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“Detections in backyard and commercial flocks are increasing around the U.S. and Canada,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Jane Lewis. “This comes as wild birds begin their annual migration south. It is imperative that anyone involved with poultry production review their biosecurity activities to assure the health of their birds.

RELATED: Bird flu outbreak waning but threat of virus lingers

State officials quarantined the site where the HPAI was found and followed federal policy, the flock has been "depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease." Officials are watching and testing in areas in a 10-kilometer zone around the affected flocks.

HPAI was confirmed at a backyard non-commercial flock in New London County in March 2022, however, multiple detections have been confirmed within wild birds, primarily waterfowl and raptors.

RELATED: Yes, a strain of bird flu is spreading in the US but infections in humans are rare

Poultry biosecurity materials and checklists can be found on the USDA’s “Defend the Flock” website. Best practices include:

  • Discourage unnecessary visitors and use biosecurity signs to warn people not to enter buildings without permission.
  • Ask all visitors if they have had any contact with any birds in the past five days.
  • Forbid entry to employees and visitors who own any kind of fowl.
  • Require all visitors to cover and disinfect all footwear.
  • Lock all entrances to chicken houses after hours.
  • Avoid non-essential vehicular traffic on-farm.
  • After hauling birds to processors, clean and disinfect poultry transport coops and vehicles before they return to the farm.
  • Report anything unusual, especially sick or dead birds, to CT DoAg at 860-713-2505 or ctstate.vet@ct.gov or the USDA at 866-536-7593.

The proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165°F kills bacteria and viruses.

In addition to practicing good biosecurity, poultry owners should keep their birds away from wild ducks and geese and their droppings. Outdoor access for poultry should be limited at this time.

Doug Stewart is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at dstewart@fox61.com.

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