Bird flu found in Colorado

Photo courtesy of Envato Elements

From staff reports

Colorado is now of the states that has detected the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) H5N1. It was first found in Eastern Colorado in a wild bird and has since been found in Western Colorado in a domestic flock in Pitkin County. 

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is working with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to ensure that the proper response is being executed and that the HPAI is being tracked locally. CDA is also encouraging all state domestic poultry flock owners to engage in biosecurity measures and to watch for birds that are not eating or drinking and/or if egg production changes in addition to deaths. 

The flock had been exposed to waterfowl that exhibited signs of being sick just before a carcass was sent for testing at the Colorado State University Diagnostic Laboratory and then was confirmed by a USDA’ diagnostic laboratory. Thirty-five of the 36 bird flock died of HPAI, the other was euthanized. The farm is currently under quarantine by the CDA. 

“With the first detection of HPAI in a backyard flock in Colorado, the State Veterinarian’s office is working diligently to provide information to backyard flock owners about how to protect their flocks and continue to monitor commercial operations. CDA and USDA field staff will be performing outreach activities in the surrounding area to increase awareness of the risk for the disease. HPAI is a highly fatal disease that can decimate a small flock in less than 48 hours, so it is critical for bird owners to take measures that prevent the introduction and spread of the virus,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Maggie Baldwin. Colorado has an HPAI tracking website at

Bird owners seeking more resources, like biosecurity plans, signage, and webinars, can visit the USDA’s Defend the Flock website or visit

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of the avian influenza virus have been detected in the United States. Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk; poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of all poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165˚F is recommended as a general food safety precaution.

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