Georgia commercial waterfowl flock struck by HPAI

About 30,000 ducks are depopulated after the first commercial case of HPAI in the nation’s largest poultry producing state.

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The state of Georgia has had its first confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial operation.

The infection has been reported by both the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

APHIS referred to the type of flock as a commercial raised for release waterfowl flock, while GDA further identified the affected birds as ducks. The affected flock is in Sumter County, and involved about 30,000 birds, according to APHIS.

“For the first time in 2023, HPAI has been confirmed in a commercial Duck breeding operation in Georgia,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper. “Our team of animal health specialists responded immediately by quarantining the affected premises, beginning depopulation of all birds on site to prevent further spread of the disease, and they continue to monitor all other flocks within the control area. While HPAI does not represent a significant threat to humans or the safety of our food supply, its impact on poultry is devastating, and we’ll continue to work overtime with our partners at APHIS to protect Georgia’s poultry industry.”

Georgia is the largest poultry producing state in the United States.

According to GDA, On November 18, the flock owner noticed signs of neurological impairment followed by increased mortality on Sunday. Samples were taken and HPAI was identified by the University of Georgia’s Tifton Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. These results were further confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, late in the evening on November 21.

Animal health officials with the GDA immediately issued a quarantine on the affected premises, and the affected flock is being depopulated.

Officials will test and monitor any additional flocks within a 10-kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the affected premises and no other flocks within the surveillance area have tested positive or experienced any clinical signs to date. APHIS is working closely with the GDA staff to monitor the situation and prevent further spread of the disease.

Prior to this instance, Georgia had only had two other confirmed cases of HPAI during the 2022-23 outbreak, and both of those involved backyard flocks, which should not have an impact on international trade, according to World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) standards. Those two backyard flock infections occurred in 2022.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation

To learn more about HPAI cases in commercial poultry flocks in the United States, Mexico and Canada, see an interactive map on 

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