UACES Facebook APHIS confirms avian flu in wild birds in Mississippi flyway
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March 8, 2022

APHIS confirms avian flu in wild birds in Mississippi flyway

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts:

  • APHIS reports mixed bird flock in South Dakota tests positive
  • Avian influenza presents no threat to people

(345 words)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been found in all four of the flyways of North America, according to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Agriculture Department.

FLYWAY WARNING — Dustan Clark, extension veterinarian for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said poultry producers at every level should review their biosecurity plans to reduce the spread of disease in their flocks. (Division of Agriculture photo.)

The infection reported by APHIS, a mixed-species commercial flock in South Dakota, was the first reported in the Central Flyway.

The disease already has been found in commercial and backyard flocks in Maryland, Maine, Missouri, New York, Kentucky, Virginia, Indiana, Delaware, Michigan, Connecticut and Iowa.

“No cases have yet been found Arkansas,” said Dustan Clark, extension veterinarian for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “And I cannot say this enough — whether you have a backyard flock or a commercial flock — review your biosecurity plans.”

Clark said wild birds are a significant means for the virus to move across large areas. The avian flu can be transmitted between birds through feces and bodily fluids. The highly pathogenic strains, known as H5 and H7, can kill 90 to 100 percent of poultry quickly; often within 48 hours of infection.

Flocks in which the disease is found are depopulated, preventing any poultry from entering the food supply.

Wildfowl highways
Flyways are north-south paths taken by migratory ducks, geese and other birds between wintering and nesting grounds. From east to west, North America has the Atlantic Flyway, Mississippi Flyway, Central Flyway and the Pacific Flyway. The Mississippi Flyway includes Arkansas, Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

The Audubon Society reports 325 species of birds move between the Gulf of Mexico and Canada along the Mississippi Flyway.

States in the Mississippi Flyway in which infections have been found in sampled birds are:

  • Alabama — A single case with an American wigeon.
  • Kentucky — 10 cases including gadwalls, mallards and snow geese.
  • Tennessee — Two cases, both wood ducks.

APHIS works with state agencies as part of its disease surveillance.

Resources to protect birds
The Cooperative Extension Service has three public webinars to help small flock poultry owners protect their birds. Find extension biosecurity resources on its website. Visit the extension resource page about avian influenza for more information.

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension.


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses. 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact 479-575-4952 as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. 

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Media contact:
Mary Hightower
Chief Communications Officer
U of A System Division of Agriculture