USDA Confirms Detection of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in a Commercial Game Bird Operation In Prowers County


Lamar, Colo. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) has confirmed the detection of Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus in a commercial game bird operation in Prowers County.

Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk; poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly.

The State Veterinarian’s Office received a report of increased mortality at a commercial upland game bird producer in Prowers County. The samples tested presumptive positive at the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory on December 8, 2022 and the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) confirmed the results on Friday, December 9, 2022. The facility houses 12,000 game birds (pheasants and chukars).

The State Veterinarian has issued a Quarantine Order in parts of Prowers County to limit movement of birds in and out of the area. Commercial and backyard poultry operations within the Quarantine Area are required to halt any movement of poultry and poultry products, as defined in the order, in and out of the area. Those within the Quarantine Area will receive a notification via postcard from the USDA. A map of the Quarantine Area as well as quarantine instructions and self-reporting forms may be found at

Poultry owners across Colorado are advised to review and increase their biosecurity measures and monitor their domestic flocks for clinical signs of HPAI. Bird owners should immediately report any illness or death in their flocks to the Colorado State Veterinarian’s office (303) 869-9130. For individual carcasses found on private property, members of the public should wear a mask and gloves to pick up a carcass. Dead birds should be double-bagged and refrigerated for possible testing, away from human food or other avian products.

HPAI has a mortality rate of 90%-100% within just a few days, so flock surveillance and disease reporting is critical to containing the spread of the virus. Clinical signs of HPAI include: 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; and diarrhea.

CDA is coordinating with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Prowers County, and other state and local partners for response. To see additional resources for bird owners and to track confirmed cases, visit

Editor’s Note:  Regarding Avian Flu to Humans: from the CDC:


Although avian (bird) influenza (flu) A viruses usually do not infect people, there have been some rare cases of human infection with these viruses. Illness in humans from bird flu virus infections have ranged in severity from no symptoms or mild illness to severe disease that resulted in death. Asian lineage H7N9 and highly pathogenic avian influenza Asian lineage H5N1 viruses have been responsible for most human illness from bird flu viruses worldwide to date, including the most serious illnesses and illness with the highest mortality.

Infected birds shed bird flu virus through their saliva, mucous and feces. Human infections with bird flu viruses can happen when virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled. This can happen when virus is in the air (in droplets or possibly dust) and a person breathes it in, or possibly when a person touches something that has virus on it then touches their mouth, eyes or nose. Human infections with bird flu viruses have occurred most often after unprotected contact with infected birds or surfaces contaminated with bird flu viruses. However, some infections have been identified where direct contact with infected birds or their environment was not known to have occurred.

The spread of bird flu viruses from one infected person to a close contact is very rare, and when it has happened, it has only spread to a few people. However, because of the possibility that bird flu viruses could change and gain the ability to spread easily between people, monitoring for human infection and person-to-person spread is extremely important for public health.


What bird owners can do:

INCREASE BIOSECURITY: Poultry owners must immediately increase biosecurity measures to protect their birds from HPAI. The USDA Defend the Flock website has helpful resources for keeping poultry healthy in any operation. Commercial poultry producers can use this toolkit to assess their biosecurity practices and preparedness.

MONITOR: Monitor your flock for clinical signs of HPAI, including monitoring production parameters (feed and water consumption, egg production) and increased illness and death.  Any changes in production parameters that could indicate HPAI should be reported.

REPORT: Veterinarians and producers must report any suspicious disease events in poultry flocks to the State Veterinarian’s office at 303-869-9130. If it is after hours, the voicemail message will indicate which veterinarian is on call.

If you have sick birds or birds that have died from unknown causes, help is available at the Colorado Avian Health Call Line at CSU, 970-297-4008.

Wild birds: The public is asked not to touch any dead birds they find on public lands. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is aware of the large mortality event in Prowers County and is working on a response plan.

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