DENVER (KDVR) – The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center has escalated its operations to support a newly formed group aiming to stem the spread of a deadly pathogen that’s popping up in fowl flocks across the state.

On April 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed reports of a Delta County inmate having tested positive for a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, alternatively known as bird flu. The inmate had just worked with infected poultry at a Montrose County commercial farm as part of a pre-release employment program, before recording a positive nasal swab test for the H5N1 bird flu.

The following evening, Gov. Jared Polis enacted a verbal state of emergency that formed the Unified Command Group, the mission of which is to develop an effective response system that can be triggered once any new cases of the highly transmissible pathogen are reported within the state.

According to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, confirmed cases of the bird flu have been identified in 32 states since the beginning of the year. This worrying trend is amplified when considering the mortality rate for birds that have contracted it, which according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, hovers between 90-100% within the first few days.

Colorado’s bird owners across the state are encouraged to reassess their biosecurity measures and increase monitoring practices of their flocks for the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (bird flu) symptoms:

  • sudden death without clinical signs
  • lack of energy or appetite
  • decreased egg production
  • soft‐shelled or misshapen eggs
  • swelling or purple discoloration of head, eyelids, comb, hocks
  • nasal discharge
  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • incoordination
  • diarrhea

If you are a bird owner and want to learn more about the various resources that the Colorado Department of Agriculture has to offer, or you want to monitor the latest bird flu updates from the state then visit their Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza page.

The newly formed Unified Command Group will be overseen by the Colorado Department of Agriculture with support from both the Colorado Department of Public Safety and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.