Avian influenza A was detected in a domestic flock of poultry in rural Gallatin County, near the Manhattan-Belgrade area.
The first case of avian flu in the county was traced back to a Canadian goose in Belgrade on April 20, and on May 4, Gallatin County confirmed that officials were notified of a detection in a rural, domestic flock.
“It’s not a public health issue, it’s not a food safety issue,” Dr. Martin Zaluski said. “But I will tell you, back in 2015 when we had a similar outbreak there was a pretty significant increase in the cost of poultry products.”
Dr. Martin Zaluski is Montana's state veterinarian and notes the danger this avian influenza brings to Montana’s domestic and wild bird population. Zaluski notes that those that do not have birds in their care should not be directly impacted as of now. Those with hobby farms or a larger domestic flock may want to keep their birds inside to avoid contact with wild birds and water fowl.
Zaluski recalls that the last avian influenza outbreak took place in 2015 and lasted until the first week of June, giving the Department of Livestock a way to compare trends to see how long the current outbreak might last.
“So ‘when’, is one of the reasons why our response is so aggressive and robust,” Zaluski said.
In the meantime, those in the agriculture world, professionally or recreationally, are doing what they can to stay a step ahead. Emma Tracy works in Agriculture and Natural Resources with Montana 4-H, and she notes different protocols in place with competitions.
“Some of our fairs in the summer will start to be impacted,” Tracy says. “For us, the Department of Livestock issued an order with poultry show exhibitions stops for 60 days once they identify those cases.”
Avian influenza is mainly being carried by migratory waterfowl, and Tracy hopes that once the migration period ends, cases will slowly trail off.