MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been confirmed at a commercial pullet farm in North Alabama, according to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Officials sent samples from the flock to be tested and they were confirmed to be positive for HPAI.

State officials quarantined the property, located in Marshall County, and all of the flock, an estimated 47,900 birds, were depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease.

Authorities are testing and monitoring other nearby flocks.

HPAI is considered low risk to human health, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), but is highly contagious to other birds, including commercial and backyard flocks of poultry.

While the virus is also not considered a food safety threat, infected birds do not enter the food supply.

ADAI Commissioner Rick Pate and State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier released the following statement, “It is critical for commercial and backyard poultry operations to remain alert and closely monitor the health of their poultry. The HPAI-infected flock in Marshall County reinforces the need to continue following strict biosecurity measures, including keeping birds enclosed without access to wild birds or other domestic flocks.”

HPAI symptoms include:

  • Sudden increase in bird deaths in your flock
  • Sneezing, gasping for air, coughing and nasal discharge
  • Watery and green diarrhea
  • Lack of energy and poor appetite
  • Drop in egg production or soft or thin-shelled, misshaped eggs
  • Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, comb and legs
  • Ruffled feathers, listlessness and lethargy

ADAI urges the commercial poultry industry and backyard flock owners to increase biosecurity measures to protect their operations from HPAI.

Biosecurity measures can include:

  • Cleaning vehicles and equipment
  • Limiting unnecessary visitors
  • Sanitizing shoes in clean foot baths
  • Changing clothes upon contact with birds and more.

People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands and change clothing before having any contact with poultry and wild birds.

Report sick or dead wild birds to the Alabama Department of Natural Resources and Conservation at (334) 242-3469.

Report sick or dead domestic birds and poultry to ADAI’s Poultry Unit at (334) 240-6584.

For more information on defending your flock, visit the USDA’s website.