TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food confirmed Monday that a "highly pathogenic avian influenza" (HPAI) was found in a flock of chickens in Utah County last week.
Officials said the birds were from a "small backyard flock" and have been killed, while the area where they were located has been quarantined to prevent a further spread of the disease. They added that there is no immediate public health concern and no human cases of this current strain of HPAI has been detected in the U.S.
It is the first case of HPAI reported in Utah this year.
“Our state veterinarian’s office was notified of symptomatic birds in Utah County and our team was immediately dispatched to assess the situation,” said Utah State Veterinarian, Dr. Dean Taylor. “Proper steps have been taken to prevent further spread of the disease.”
In response to Monday's announcement, Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City said it would take precautions to protect its birds from contracting HPAI. The aviary has closed its Kennecott Wetlands and Backyard Bird exhibits to visitors, and modified access at the Treasures of the Rainforest exhibit. Netting has also been installed over other exhibits to prevent wild birds from congregating with more sensitive species.
Tracy Aviary remains open to the public and officials say it is still "very safe," according to a statement. Guests who have been near poultry farms or backyard chicken flocks are being asked to refrain from going into the aviary's indoor exhibits.
"At this time, it is uncertain how long these precautions will need to be in place," said President and CEO of Tracy Aviary, Tim Brown. "Our staff is monitoring the situation in North America, and we will return operations to normal when we can determine that the virus is no longer a threat to our birds."
The Department of Agriculture is urging anyone with birds in Utah County to watch their flocks for symptoms, which include a high death loss, nasal discharge, and decreased appetite or water consumption. Anyone whose flocks experience issues is told to contact the state veterinarian’s office immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLICK HERE for a checklist on keeping flocks healthy.