HPAI detections continue as 2023 comes to a close

December 14, 2023

After an extended time with no HPAI detections in commercial layers, fall 2023 has brought a new round of detections to layer flocks across the country as the fall migration continues.   Since Oct. 31, 2023, 10 commercial layer flocks have had detections claiming 10,549,000 layers.   It should be noted that of the 10,549,000 layers affected in 2023; 61% were housed in conventional systems with 39% cage-free. Of those, 67% were breakers, and 33% were table eggs.

Since February of 2022, there have been 1,012 total poultry detections, including 426 commercial premises and 586 backyard flocks impacting over 72.54 million birds total. The total layer detections in this outbreak have reached 40 layer premises affecting 53.78 million layers.

Fall migration continues through December, and APHIS wild bird detections increased to 8,365 wild birds. Producers should assume birds flying over farms are positive, and that HPAI is present around all farms. Precautions must be taken to keep the virus outside the line of separation (LOS) and out of barns. With warmer temperatures, migration is delayed compared to last year, and HPAI detections could continue into January in some parts of the country.

Now is the time for producers to re-educate employees on all biosecurity practices, including hunting precautions. APHIS strongly recommends hunters wear gloves to minimize direct contact with wild birds, wash after cleaning game, and change clothing before any contact with domestic poultry.  Anyone engaging in waterfowl hunting or exposure to waterfowl should not be around commercial poultry for at least 72 hours and take the proper precautions, including cleaning vehicles and footwear.

UEP’s Animal Health and Biosecurity Committee formed a HPAI task force in early 2023 and produced the UEP Biosecurity Task Force Resources for egg producers packet to help develop, strengthen, and reinforce biosecurity programs.

The virus is still present in the environment across the U.S., and biosecurity remains the only defense to keep HPAI off farms.