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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

tan chicken and black chicken in a pen

There are two types of virus:

  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI): Virus strains are extremely infectious, often fatal to domestic poultry and can spread rapidly from flock to flock.
  • Low Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (LPAI): Virus strains occur naturally in wild migratory waterfowl and shorebirds without causing illness. LPAI can infect domestic poultry with little or no signs of illness.

Current Cases in North Dakota

Man of ND Counties with HPAI as of 11-24-2023



2023 HPAI cases in ND as of 11-24-2023
County DomesticWild BirdBoth
Burleigh x 
Cass x 
Dickey  x
Divide x 
Eddy x 
Emmons x 
Golden Valley x  
Kidder x 
McHenry x 
Mercer x 
Towner x 


4 brown chickens eating vegetables in a pen

Signs of HPAI

  • Sudden, unexplained death
  • Decline in water consumption
  • Decreased egg production and depression in layers
  • Purple or dry combs
  • Quieter than normal
  • Frequently laying down
  • Swelling around eyes

Procedures for Sick Poultry

  • Monitor your flock for signs of illness.
  • Report what you are seeing and any dead domestic birds.
  • Call your veterinarian to describe the signs in your flock so together next steps can be taken.
  • If you cannot reach a local veterinarian, call the North Dakota State Board of Animal Health at 701-328-2655 or after-hours at 701-220-0092.
  • Avoid contact and do not transport sick or deceased poultry.
  • If you must handle wild birds or sick or dead poultry, minimize direct contact by wearing gloves and wash your hands with soap and water after touching birds and any contaminated surfaces.
    • If available, wear respiratory protection such as a medical facemask.
    • Change your clothing before contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds after handling wild birds, and discard the gloves and facemask, and then wash your hands with soap and water.

Procedures for Positive Cases

USDA HPAI response plans for federal and state partners are in place to respond quickly and decisively to outbreaks. The basic steps are as follows:

  1. Quarantine — Restrict movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area.
  2. Eradicate — Depopulate the affected flock(s).
  3. Monitor region — Test wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area.
  4. Disinfect — Kill the virus in the affected flock locations.
  5. Test — Confirm that the poultry farm is avian influenza virus-free.

The USDA will reimburse farmers for birds that must be depopulated because of HPAI. Prior to assessing indemnity payments, USDA will ask farmers to verify they have a biosecurity plan in place for their farm(s). This is required for larger-sized farms to receive indemnity payments not small or backyard flocks.

Procedures for Wild Birds

The primary carriers of avian influenza A are waterfowl, gulls, terns and shorebirds. Avoid direct contact with wild birds and observe them only from a distance. Wild birds can be infected without showing symptoms of the infection.

  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently believes that the public health risk from the current HPAI outbreak is low. They advise avoiding direct contact with sick or dead wild birds. Individuals should also avoid transporting sick or dead birds.
  • Do not handle dead wild birds. Avian influenza surveillance and testing in wild birds is being done by USDA APHIS Wildlife Services and North Dakota Department of Game and Fish.
  • Please report wild sick and dead birds at Wild bird avian influenza questions can be directed to 701-204-2161.
  • Reduce the attractiveness for wild birds to stop at your place by cleaning up litter and spilled feed around your domestic poultry housing.

When should you move wild bird carcasses?

While handling and transporting carcasses is not advised, there may be some cases where it is required to minimize transmission of HPAI and continue normal activities. This would be especially true to limit contact with domestic poultry, or if fields need to be worked in preparation for planting, etc.


According to the CDC: “If you must handle wild birds or sick or dead poultry, minimize direct contact by wearing gloves and wash your hands with soap and water after touching birds. If available, wear respiratory protection such as a medical facemask. Change your clothing before contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds after handling wild birds, and discard the gloves and facemask, disinfect footwear, and then wash your hands with soap and water.”


It is critical that carcasses are disposed of properly to reduce the risk for transmission to domestic flocks and other wildlife. Numerous cases of mortality in eagles, hawks and owls have occurred as a result of scavenging on dead bird carcasses. For this reason, moving carcasses to new areas and discarding them on the landscape should be avoided, as this may unintentionally contribute to more cases.

Acceptable disposal options for wild bird carcasses include:

More information about wild birds can be found at North Dakota Game and Fish or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Flock Biosecurity

Biosecurity is a set of practices or procedures employed to prevent the introduction or spread of infectious organisms, viruses, funguses, parasites and other microorganisms into a herd or flock.

Biosecurity can include measures with structural biosecurity like the construction and maintenance of coops, pens, poultry houses, family farms, commercial farms and other facilities to operational biosecurity that implements practices, procedures and policies for keeping your livestock healthy.

Biosecurity is a team effort. Everyone raising livestock should have biosecurity protocols in place to prepare and prevent disease outbreaks. By practicing good biosecurity, the risk of people, animals, equipment or vehicles carrying infection organisms decreases.

Biosecurity Steps

  1. Keep your distance. Restrict access to your property and your birds. Allow contact from people who care for your birds but minimize visitors.
  2. Keep it clean. Wear clean clothes, scrub your shoes with disinfectant and wash your hands thoroughly before and after caring for your flock. Clean and disinfect tools and equipment that come into contact with your birds or their droppings.
  3. Don’t haul disease home. If you have been near other poultry or poultry owners, such as at feed stores, clean and disinfect car and truck tires. New birds should be kept separate from your flock for at least 30 days.
  4. Don’t borrow disease from your neighbor. Do not share lawn and garden equipment, tools or poultry supplies with your neighbor or other poultry owners.
  5. Know the warning signs of infectious bird diseases. Early detection is important to prevent the spread of disease. Monitor poultry health as you conduct chores each day.
  6. Report sick birds. Don’t wait. If your birds are sick or dying, do not transport the birds, contact your local veterinarian or the North Dakota State Board of Animal Health at 701-328-2655.

Proper Disposal

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and state partners evaluate the disposal methods case by case based on factors such as the size of the flock, space requirements, associated costs, local conditions, and applicable laws and regulations.

Food Safety

  • Avian influenza is not a food safety issue. Poultry is safe to eat. Always cook poultry and eggs thoroughly.
  • Poultry testing positive for HPAI are prohibited by law from entering the marketplace.
  • -Birds from affected flocks will not enter the food system.