First Case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Diagnosed in Indiana Backyard Poultry Flock

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) has been notified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory that poultry from a backyard (hobby) flock in Whitley County tested positive for highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza.

Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk; poultry and eggs are safe to eat. The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk of illness to humans to be very low.

BOAH veterinarians collected samples from the flock, after the owner reported several chickens became ill and died. The hobby flock contained 77 birds of various species, including ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys. In a rapid response effort, all of the birds were removed from the site, to ensure no ongoing risk of disease spread. BOAH is reaching out to poultry owners in the Whitley County area to raise awareness and determine if the disease has spread.

Initial response to this finding has been swift and focused, with coordination among BOAH, USDA, Indiana State Poultry Association and the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. Governor Mike Pence has been fully informed and has directed all relevant agencies to provide a robust response in support of BOAH’s efforts. Indiana is a leading poultry-producing state, nationally ranked first in the production of ducks, second in egg-type hatch, third in egg layers and fourth in turkeys.


Backyard poultry owners are encouraged to be aware of the signs of avian influenza and report illness and/or death to the USDA Healthy Birds Hotline:  866-536-7593. Callers will be routed to a state or federal veterinarian in Indiana for a case assessment. Dead birds should be double-bagged and refrigerated for possible testing.

Signs include:  sudden death without clinical signs; lack of energy or appetite; decreased egg production; soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; swelling or purple discoloration of head, eyelids, comb, hocks; nasal discharge; coughing; sneezing; incoordination; and diarrhea. A great resource for backyard bird health information is online at:


Situation updates and status reports about ongoing avian influenza activities, along with critical disease-related information, will be posted online at: . Users may subscribe to email updates on a link at that page.

Learn more with HAT’s interview with Denise Derrer, Public Information Director at the Indiana State Board of Animal Health:Denise Derrer Avian Influenza-1

Source: BOAH

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