Daily, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry continues to solidify its response should a case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza be reported and confirmed in Oklahoma.


HPAI is a serious poultry disease and is highly contagious among birds. There have been no reported cases of HPAI in Oklahoma.


“Also, there have been no documented cases of human illness from the particular strain that has been seen in the U.S.,” assistant state veterinarian Dr. Michael Herrin said Tuesday. “There are multiple levels of protection that make it highly unlikely HPAI-infected poultry would ever enter the food chain and proper cooking kills the virus; which means our food supply is very safe.”


However, since late 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture has confirmed several cases of HPAI in the migratory bird paths known as the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi flyways. The disease has been found in wild birds, as well as in a few backyard and commercial poultry flocks.


“We are starting to see the migration of the waterfowl south into Oklahoma,” Herrin said.


Wild migratory waterfowl such as ducks and geese are the natural hosts, added state veterinarian Dr. Rod Hall.


“They rarely become ill from the virus, but can spread it mostly through their feces,” Hall said. “The virus is transmitted via the fecal, oral route. Wild waterfowl pass the virus in their feces, then domestic poultry consume feed or water that has been contaminated by the contaminated feces.”


The consequences of avian influenza can include high death loss, depopulation of poultry not already dead, disposal, disinfection, indemnity and repopulation, according to Hall.


Again, Oklahoma has not experienced any confirmed cases. But, Herrin pointed to the impact HPAI has had in other areas, including Iowa.