Avian Influenza

By Dr. Michael W. Radebaugh, VMD

A very contagious and infectious poultry disease known as avian influenza could be coming our way. Over the last two years, a very virulent strain of avian influenza, especially one deadly to turkeys and table-egg chickens has caused catastrophic poultry losses, and brought economic instability to the States infected by this virus. So far, Maryland poultry have not been infected.

With the cold weather, there will be wild waterfowl migrating into our region. They could be carrying the avian influenza virus. Wild ducks and geese are asymptomatic carriers of the avian influenza. This virus remains very stable in the cold weather, and is easily transmitted to naïve domestic poultry. Poultry like Maryland’s small backyard table-egg flocks, free-range poultry, and commercial turkey farms could be highly susceptible to this virus because of the likelihood of close encounters with wild waterfowl. These poultry premises are a heightened concern to the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Program. There are over 7000 poultry premises like these high risk premises throughout our State.

In your practices, if you are asked to treat or receive calls about poultry with acute upper respiratory clinical signs, decreased egg production, severe depression, and sudden unexplained deaths, please call Animal Health at 410-841-5810 or if after hours call 410-841-597.

To learn more about avian influenza especially ways to prevent its entry onto Maryland poultry farms visit the Department’s website: http://mda.maryland.gov/Pages/AvianFlu.aspx

To learn the proper technique for sampling suspected poultry for avian influenza visit under poultry testers: http://mda.maryland.gov/AnimalHealth/Pages/poultry.aspx

Important Notices:

  1. As of January 1, 2017, Animal Health Program will only dispense to Category II accredited veterinarians the USDA, VS Form 10-11 Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) or “Coggins Tests” forms. The Maryland EIA Test form, MDA E-32 will be phased out. The grace period for acceptance of the phased out Maryland EIA Test form, MDA E-32 will be until June 30, 2017. After July 1, 2017, only the Federal EIA Test form, VS 10-11 will be accepted at our two animal diagnostic laboratories. The Federal EIA form, VS 10-11 can be obtained from either Animal Health Headquarters (410-841-5810) or from our Salisbury Animal Health Laboratory (410-543-6610) or from the Frederick Animal Health Laboratory (301-600-1548).
  2. The Animal Health Program is accepting electronic Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) and EIA Tests from GlobalvetLInk: https://www.globalvetlink.com or from USDA Veterinary Processing Streamlining (VSPS): https://vsapps.aphis.usda.gov/vsps. The VSPS service is free to accredited veterinarians.
  3. The next USDA-Maryland Accreditation class is scheduled for December 13, 2016 at MDA Headquarters. For information on the class and to register, contact Ms. Robin Greene at the USDA APHIS VS District 1 office in Richmond, Virginia 804-343-2561, robin.t.greene@aphis.usda.gov

Michael W. Radebaugh, VMD
Maryland State Veterinarian, Chief Animal Health Program
Maryland Department of Agriculture
Annapolis, Maryland