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US Counties Declare Emergency Amidst Avian Flu Catastrophe

Jared Polis Governor of Colorado

United States: The Governor of Colorado has announced that increasing cases of bird flu have forced the authorities to declare a disaster emergency at a commercial egg facility in Weld County.

The decision has been announced after the producer testes positive for highly pathogenic avian influence (HPAI). The test results were shared by the health authorities on Monday. Following this, the health experts have stated that approximately 1.78 million chickens will be culled to break the spread.

In an effort to contain the outbreak, the state veterinarian has instituted a quarantine in specific areas of Weld County, restricting the movement of birds in and out of the region. Poultry owners, both commercial and backyard, within the quarantine zone, are urged to report their flock status via an online form.

In the adjacent Larimer County, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories at Colorado State University (CSU) perform testing on all animal samples from the state. This facility identified the recent avian flu outbreak in Weld County.

The lab, helmed by Dr. Kristy Pabilonia, a veterinarian with a PhD in microbiology, operates within CSU.

“Avian flu is more prevalent in northern Colorado due to the high concentration of livestock operations. We’re observing it in both domestic poultry and cattle,” said Pabilonia. “Whether in commercial poultry or backyard flocks, the impact is devastating due to the high mortality rate. The typical response is to depopulate affected birds as they are severely ill and unlikely to survive the influenza.”

According to the latest report from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, over six million birds have been impacted by HPAI since the outbreak’s inception in early 2022.

Pabilonia noted that the virus also affects cattle.

“With cattle, we’re not seeing significant mortality. Instead, there are changes in milk production and behavior, such as lethargy,” said Pabilonia. “Nonetheless, the impact is considerable as it affects the production system and the livelihood of producers.”

The disaster emergency declaration enables the state to assist the affected producer with response, recovery, and mitigation measures.

Governor Polis’ office stated that the specific facility affected would not be disclosed due to the Livestock Information Protection Act.

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