LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Cases of highly contagious bird flu have been discovered in a non-commercial flock in Lawrence County.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said they confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) after samples were tested.

APHIS is working with state animal health officials in response. State officials quarantined the affected property and “depopulated” the birds to prevent the spread of the disease. Officials said birds from the non-poultry flock would not enter the food system. 

Officials are setting up additional surveillance and testing in areas near the affected flock.

ADAI and USDA say they are actively searching for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory bird populations, using “the strongest AI surveillance program in the world.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control lists HPAI as a low risk to human health, but is highly contagious to other birds.

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

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate and State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier release a statement on the incident:

“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 Lawrence 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 around the eyes, neck and head
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, comb and legs
  • Ruffled feathers, listlessness and lethargy

You can report sick or dead wild birds to the Alabama Department of Natural Resources and Conservation at (334) 242-3469 and domestic birds and poultry to ADAI’s Poultry Unit at (334) 240-6584.