Disease found in wild ducks in N.H. may threaten poultry farms

  • The bird flu epidemic has raised egg prices nationwide. But, customers in the region prefer free-range, pasture raised or organic eggs, which are a separate market. Monitor file

Concord Monitor
Published: 2/16/2022 10:19:43 AM
Modified: 2/16/2022 10:17:49 AM

CONCORD — A dangerous strain of avian flu has been detected in wild ducks in New Hampshire, raising concern among poultry producers in the region.

Eurasian H5 was detected this month in 20 mallards in Rockingham County that were “collected through normal surveillance activities,” New Hampshire Fish and Game has reported.

This appears to be the first time the disease has been detected north of Delaware, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. It has been found in at least three flocks of domestic chickens and turkeys in the South and Midwest.

This strain of avian flu does not appear to be transmittable to humans.

“Sickness and mortality is typically low in wild birds, but it could be a potential danger to the poultry industry and other domestic birds,” said a report from the state Department of Agriculture.

This spring is the first time since 2016 that the disease has been found in the United States in wild birds.

Its presence in wild birds is of particular concern to “free range” poultry farms, which let their birds loose in fields rather than keeping them inside buildings. It is virtually impossible to prevent interaction between wild birds and such poultry.

The state Department of Agriculture said the discovery can “serve as an early warning system for bird owners in the U.S. and New Hampshire to review and stay vigilant about their biosecurity practices to protect poultry and pet birds from avian influenza.” It suggests that “hunters and others who handle birds” wear gloves and disinfect tools and work areas to limit the possibility of cross-contamination.

Eastern New Hampshire is part of what is known as the Atlantic Flyway, the region along the Eastern Seaboard used by millions of birds each year going north and south with the seasons.

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