MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a non-commercial backyard flock (non-poultry) in Lawrence County, Alabama.

Samples from the flock were tested at the Alabama State Diagnostic Laboratories, part of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.

APHIS is working closely with state animal health officials in Alabama on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises, and birds on the property were depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system.

As part of existing avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners are working on additional surveillance and testing in areas around the affected flock. The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world. ADAI and USDA are actively looking for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.

HPAI is considered low risk to human health according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, but is highly contagious to other birds, including commercial and backyard flocks of poultry. While the virus is also not considered a food safety threat, infected birds do not enter the food supply.

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate and State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier release the following statement, “It is critical for commercial and backyard poultry operations to remain alert and closely monitor the health of their poultry. The HPAI infected flock in Lawrence County reinforces the need to continue following strict biosecurity measures, including keeping birds enclosed without access to wild birds or other domestic flocks.”

HPAI symptoms include:

  • Sudden increase in bird deaths in your flock
  • Sneezing, gasping for air, coughing and nasal discharge
  • Watery and green diarrhea
  • Lack of energy and poor appetite
  • Drop in egg production or soft or thin-shelled, misshaped eggs
  • Swelling around the eyes, neck and head
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, comb and legs
  • Ruffled feathers, listlessness and lethargy

Report sick or dead wild birds to the Alabama Department of Natural Resources and Conservation at 334-242-3469.

For information on biosecurity measures, visit

Report sick or dead domestic birds and poultry to ADAI’s Poultry Unit at 334-240-6584.