Contagious neighbors, HPAI closes in on Mississippi poultry

Published 8:01 am Saturday, November 4, 2023

JACKSON — Poultry producers and backyard chicken coop owners in Mississippi could soon have to deal with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in flocks. United States Department of Agriculture detected additional positive outbreaks of the bird flu in neighboring states.

The trend of outbreaks starting in northern states and spreading to the south by November matches last year’s HPAI outbreak and migratory patterns of birds. Arkansas and Tennessee have joined Alabama with HPAI outbreaks in commercial poultry this October. Mississippi reported its first HPAI outbreak in a commercial poultry producer in Lawerence County last November.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza affected 1.36 million birds in October and three days into November has affected 80,000 birds in commercial production or backyard facilities.

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HPAI was a concern for consumers going into the holiday season last year. USDA reports while turkey producers lost 189,100 birds to HPAI in the past month, it is not projected to make an impact on the market as of the October Poultry and Dairy Outlook.

One of the reasons HPAI has slowed down in spread is the USDA’s ongoing education and communication of biosecurity measures to defend the flock. USDA writes that “Biosecurity is the best defense against HPAI and strongly encourages all bird owners to review resources, such as this factsheet, on managing wildlife to prevent avian influenza, evaluate their biosecurity plans, and develop a strategy to prevent any exposure to wild birds or their droppings.”