HPAI Update: Mississippi detects two new positives

Published 1:14 pm Friday, December 29, 2023

JACKSON — Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks continued sampling efforts to detect Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza detected two new positives this week. The pair of snow geese were confirmed positive by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Service in Madison and Smith counties.

Mississippi has six detections of HPAI in wild birds this fiscal year and 197 confirmed positives since the initial HPAi outbreak in 2022. Unlike the majority of positives, the USDA database reports these birds were found dead rather than being hunter harvested. 

APHIS has yet to report an outbreak of HPAI in commercial poultry in Mississippi this fiscal year. Last year, the first outbreak occurred in Lawrence County at the end of November 2022 and four other outbreaks occurred into the spring of 2023. 

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MDWFP Waterfowl Program Coordinator Houston Havens said there is some lag time on the samples being tested and positives being published on the HPAI dashboard. The outbreak seems to have slowed down this year though.

“It seems to be down from last year on calls. Last year we were pretty much right in the thick of it getting calls left and right. We are still getting calls about sick birds and getting to them when we can,” Havens said. “It is important around the poultry industry counties to try and monitor where HPAI is. Most positives have been in hunter harvest where the birds were healthy and appeared to be healthy, were submitted for sampling and tested positive.” 

Havens said they are testing for HPAI at select WMAs across Mississippi to try to get a good distribution of samples for surveillance efforts. 

Mississippi is not out of the HPAI woods yet. Migratory waterfowl are still making their way down south and this past week had a drop off in hunter harvests. Very little rainfall and the lack of significantly cold weather events up north have limited the abundance and distribution of ducks in Mississippi. 

HPAI Prevalence appears to be down this year and birds seem to be responding positively to the disease. 

“It would appear the ducks are building up an immunity to the disease with our positives coming from healthy wild birds. We hope that is the case, that they are building an immunity,” Havens said. “It is still a negative as far as the birds being able to carry the disease and act as transmission vectors. We are always hoping nothing else gets infected.” 

MDWFP will conduct an aerial survey for waterfowl at the start of January. Havens said he hopes to see an uptick in birds