Ag News

Avian influenza confirmed in non-commercial birds in Henry County

by Compiled by Georgia Farm Bureau

Posted on Aug 31, 2022 at 0:00 AM

The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) & the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service have confirmed Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in a non-commercial flock located at the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Henry County. This is the second confirmation of HPAI in Georgia in a noncommercial flock this year. HPAI was confirmed in a menagerie flock in Toombs County in early June.

According to published reports, more than 100 birds were humanely euthanized at Noah’s Ark, including peacocks, pea hens, emus, ostrich, Guinea fowl, chickens, turkeys and geese, one owl, one crow and one sandhill crane. State Veterinarian Janemarie Hennebelle said the remaining avian species housed at Noah’s Ark will be quarantined for a minimum of five months.

“Over these coming months, our staff will monitor the health of remaining animals onsite so the facility can ultimately be released from quarantine and safely resume operations,” Hennebelle said in a video posted to YouTube by the GDA. “In the meantime, for all of you that have birds, we encourage our flock owners to maintain vigilance and ensure that you have robust measures in place to protect your birds from AI.”

According to Hennebelle, Noah’s Ark reported increased mortality of wild vultures on Aug. 13. The concern was reported to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over wild birds. On Aug. 18, GDA received notification of domestic ducks exhibiting symptoms consistent with HPAI, and the department began collecting samples on Aug. 19 for testing. HPAI was detected through in-state tests, and on Aug. 22 the National Veterinary Services Lab confirmed the results. The AJC reported that, in addition to the euthanized birds, approximately 700 wild vultures reportedly died or were euthanized following confirmation of the virus.

Avian influenza does not pose a risk to the food supply, and no affected animals entered the food chain. The risk of human infection with avian influenza is very low.

The flock owners reported an increased rate of wild black vulture mortality as well as sick domestic birds. Samples taken on Aug. 19 were tested for the presence of H5N1 avian influenza virus in the flock by the University of Georgia, Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (AVDL) and USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL).

If you suspect your birds have avian influenza, call the AI Hotline at 770-766-6850. Testing is free through the Georgia poultry lab website.  For more information about avian influenza, visit the GDA avian influenza webpage  for biosecurity resources.

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