UConn’s CT Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory is Testing Non-Commercial Backyard Flocks (Non-Poultry) After Avian Influenza Detected in State

Surveillance and testing are ongoing to quickly identify and contain any future cases that could affect over five million poultry in the state

White leghorn roosters with chickens at the Poultry Unit

White leghorn roosters with chickens at the Poultry Unit (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Avian influenza was recently confirmed in one backyard non-poultry flock in Connecticut. The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL), part of UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources tested the birds in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Avian influenza (AI) is a virus of birds – this includes domestic and wild birds. The virus naturally occurs in birds and is also referred to as bird flu. The challenge is that avian influenza can spread to other animals and may mutate. This can be devastating to bird owners and those with agricultural operations.

Surveillance and testing are ongoing in Connecticut to quickly identify and contain any future cases that could affect the more than five million birds in the state.

“The CVMDL is currently deploying its testing resources to rapidly detect and monitor the current outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza. As with our other work, the CVMDL is closely coordinating with our partners, the Office of the State Veterinarian at CT DoAg and USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services, to help the residents of our state address this challenge” says Guillermo Risatti, director of CVMDL.

The AI strain that is currently circulating in this region is highly pathogenic, but the current public health risk is low. While it is possible for mutated influenza viruses to infect humans, causing a public health crisis, there are also strict protocols in place for preventing any infected foods and by-products from reaching consumers.

The CVMDL conducts all tests at the laboratory in Storrs and informs the state veterinarian about the results. With this current outbreak and others, the CVMDL is on the front lines of research and testing to keep humans and animals safe. Disease diagnostics and monitoring is one part of their work. Visit the CVMDL site for more information on avian influenza testing.

For more information, read the APHIS release about the confirmed Connecticut cases on March 2, 2022.

The CVMDL is a USDA National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) member. NAHLN is a network of laboratories that can respond quickly to disease events like this current highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak. In that capacity, the CVMDL serves the State of Connecticut and the USDA-APHIS in the entire New England region. The CVMDL is the only NAHLN laboratory in this region of the country. 

Follow UConn CAHNR on social media