Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza Found In Md. Black Vultures


Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has turned up in black vultures that were found sick and dead last month in Harford County.
This is the first time on Delmarva that HPAI has been found in wild birds since February 17th, when the virus was detected in a Canada Goose in Kent County, Delaware.
Poultry farmers and growers are advised to increase their vigilance to protect their flocks.
H5N1 avian influenza has been discovered at a total of six farms in Delaware and on the Eastern Shore.
Both states and the federal USDA have responded with a coordinated mitigation program.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture released the following information Wednesday, May 11th:

Considering the ongoing detections in the black vulture population, all poultry owners need to continue with increased vigilance in protecting their flocks from contracting avian influenza. Follow these steps to help manage wildlife and keep avian influenza off your farm:

·       Cover waste. Keep mortality and compost piles covered at all times. The recommendation is one part mortalities to two parts litter, with birds in layers no more than 5 inches deep and not placed next to sidewalls. Cover mortalities daily with litter. If vultures are still an issue, cover the bins with netting or a screen.

·       Remove standing water adjacent to poultry houses. Grade property to avoid pooling water. Fill or grade areas where water stands for more than 48 hours after heavy rainfall. Don’t walk or move equipment through or near standing water – this could track wildlife fecal matter or other contaminants with the virus into your barns. Never use untreated surface water for watering birds, cleaning poultry barns, or other facilities.

·       Manage ponds and basins on poultry farms. Prune or remove plants from banks of artificial water structures. Use wire grids, predator decoys, and scare devices to keep waterfowl away. Use fencing to separate natural ponds from the active area around barns.

·       Secure buildings. Regularly check and repair damaged screens on windows and doors and holes in barn walls. Install netting or screens and use repellent gel or bird spikes to deter perching. Wash away or remove old nests before each nesting season. It is unlawful to remove nests with eggs or young birds in them.

·       Reduce food sources. Don’t feed wildlife. Remove spilled or uneaten feed immediately and ensure feed storage units are secure and free of holes. Wild birds can carry HPAI.

·       Use decoys. Install decoys and scare devices and move them often so wildlife doesn’t get used to them.

If you have sick poultry or experience increased mortality in your flock:

  • Commercial poultry producers should contact the company they grow for when they notice signs of disease.
  • Backyard flock owners who notice any signs of HPAI in their flock should contact:
    • In Delaware, email the Delaware Poultry Health Hotline at poultry.health@delaware.gov or call 302-698-4507 and provide your contact information, size of flock, location, and concerns.
    • In Maryland, report any unusual or sudden increases in sick birds to the MDA Animal Health Program at 410-841-5810. Commercial chicken growers and backyard flock owners can email questions about the outbreak to Birdflu@maryland.gov.

If you see sick or dead wild birds, do not handle or move them. Report any sick wild birds.

  • For assistance in Maryland, call toll-free 1-877-463-6497. U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services operators are available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on state holidays. For phone numbers outside of Maryland, please call 410-349-8055.
  • For assistance in Delaware, please visit our sick or dead wildlife reporting page or call 302-739-9912 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. After hours, weekends, and state holidays, leave a message at 302-735-3600, Ext. 2.

For more information on avian influenza, visit https://de.gov/poultry or https://mda.maryland.gov/avianflu.