A dangerous strain of bird flu has been discovered in a private flock of birds at a Long Island home, prompting an urgent state and federal response to contain the contagious disease.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the New York State Department of Agriculture on Saturday confirmed the positive test for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in what they described as a “small, non-commercial backyard flock” of eight non-poultry birds in Suffolk County.
“State officials quarantined the affected premises, and birds on the properties will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system,” the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said in a statement.
The state and federal authorities also said they would launch a major biosecurity response, with testing and surveillance in surrounding areas.
The disease is described as highly contagious and often fatal for chickens. Human infections with bird flu are rare and usually accompanied by prolonged exposure to sick or dead birds, according to the CDC, but are mostly fatal when they do happen.
It was not immediately clear from the federal statement which precise strain of bird flu had been identified in the Suffolk County birds, though the USDA said this week that the Eurasian H5 strain had been discovered recently in the United States, and the CDC said they appear to be H5N1 specifically.
So far this year, bird flu has been found in commercial flocks in Indiana and Kentucky and in a backyard flock in Virginia. It has also been found in wild birds in at least nine states.
There have been no human cases to date, and the CDC said this week they consider the recent outbreaks to be low risk to the general public.