CONTACT:
Dan Bergeron: (603) 271-1439
Nicola Whitley: (603) 271-1740
April 6, 2022

Concord, NH –The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is announcing that Eurasian H5, a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), was detected in Canada geese which were recently found dead in Strafford County. Over 70 geese were found over the course of several weeks, a number of which were collected and submitted for testing. The USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed the presence of HPAI, and findings from both the University of New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and the USGS National Wildlife Health Center indicate HPAI as the likely cause of death. In February, a total of 46 mallards collected through routine surveillance of the wild population tested positive in Rockingham County for this avian influenza, as well as 3 other ducks in Grafton County.

This is the first time since 2016 that the Eurasian H5 virus has been found in the United States in wild birds, and it has now spread to 31 states since it was first detected in South Carolina in January 2022. This type of HPAI is considered a low risk to humans, and sickness and mortality is usually low in wild birds, but larger die offs such as this one do happen. This virus could be a potential danger to the poultry industry and other domestic birds, such as at the Pumpkin Wall Farm in Derry last month.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk of HPAI H5 infections to the public to be low. No human infections from Eurasian H5 viruses have occurred in the United States. If you have had contact with an ill bird and become ill yourself, however, contact your healthcare provider to determine if influenza testing is recommended.

Through its ongoing wild bird surveillance program, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA APHIS) collects and tests large numbers of samples from wild birds in the North American flyways. It is not uncommon to detect avian influenza in wild birds, as these viruses circulate freely in those populations without the birds appearing sick. The recent detections of this strain of Eurasian H5 avian influenza in wild birds serve as an early warning system for bird owners in the US and New Hampshire to review and remain vigilant with their biosecurity practices to protect poultry and pet birds from avian influenza.

USDA APHIS Veterinary and Wildlife Services recommends that hunters and others who handle birds take precautions to protect themselves and the domestic birds they may encounter from this virus. Precautionary steps include wearing gloves while handling birds, not handling obviously sick or dead birds, washing tools and work surfaces with soap and water and then disinfecting them, and avoiding cross contamination between wild birds and domestic ones. The Department also recommends taking in bird feeders to help prevent the spread of the virus, particularly if you have domestic poultry.

For more information about Eurasian H5 HPAI, contact USDA APHIS at 508-363-2290 or visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/avian-influenza/defend-the-flock-ai-wild-birds.

For information about Eurasian H5 and its impact on wild bird species in New Hampshire, contact the NH Fish and Game Department at 603-271-3421 or visit https://wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/avian-flu.html.

For information about Eurasian H5 impacting New Hampshire domestic bird species, contact the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, Division of Animal Industry, State Veterinarian, Steve Crawford, 603-271-2404 or stephen.k.crawford@agr.nh.gov.