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Avian flu confirmed in commercial chicken flock in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, MD (November 21, 2023)— State laboratory testing has detected a case of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI) in Caroline County. Following increased mortality of a broiler operation and investigation by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, it has been preliminarily confirmed that poultry from the affected farm has tested positive for HPAI.

State officials have quarantined all affected premises, and birds on the properties are being or have been depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from affected flocks will not enter the food system.

Confirmation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratory is pending with final results anticipated in the coming days.

“High Pathogenic Avian influenza or HPAI does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which remain healthy and safe to eat and handle. Poultry growers, operators, and backyard flock owners should be on high alert of the threat of HPAI,” said Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Kevin Atticks. “The Maryland Department of Agriculture, local health department, USDA and partner organizations are working diligently to address the situation, including quarantining and testing nearby flocks.”

Avian influenza is a highly contagious airborne respiratory virus that spreads easily among birds through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. The virus can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers. This virus affects poultry, like chickens, ducks, and turkeys, along with some wild bird species such as ducks, geese, shorebirds, and raptors.

According to the Maryland Department of Health, the risk of transmission between birds and the general public is low.

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