DENVER (KDVR) — Since April, there have been 15 detections of a deadly strain of the bird flu in flocks of birds in Colorado.
There is a population of birds in Colorado whose function is solely to lay eggs for consumption.
This year’s outbreak of bird flu has impacted 85% of the total egg-laying bird population in the state.
“Four point seven million domestic poultry in the state of Colorado,” Dr. Maggie Baldwin, state veterinarian from Colorado’s Department of Agriculture, said.
Back in 2014 and 2015, the country saw the largest outbreak of bird flu ever, impacting 50 million birds.
Baldwin said the current outbreak is exceeding those figures from eight years ago.
“We’ve experienced the largest foreign animal disease outbreak in not only our state’s history but in our nation’s history,” Baldwin said.
The 15 detections in Colorado of a deadly strain of the virus have occurred in both commercial and private flocks.
Ten of those detections have been in backyard flocks and five of those detections have been in commercial flocks.
Baldwin said there’s a typical, less deadly, strain of the virus that’s been detected in the state before.
“We’ve never had highly pathogenic avian influenza in the state of Colorado before,” Baldwin said.
That highly pathogenic strain has been found in 47 of the 50 states in the country, in part because of infected wild birds.
“People can also spread the virus. If we’re out interacting with wild birds,” Baldwin said, “if we’re out duck hunting, for example, and we go home and take care of our chickens at home, we can bring that virus home.”
The USDA has created a program called “Defend the Flock” aimed at providing resources for poultry farmers to keep the bird flu away from their flocks.
“It’s a really good self-assessment that a producer of any size can use,” Baldwin said.