The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus affecting the Reynolds Game Farm pheasant population.

DEC began investigating suspicious deaths at the Game Farm, located near Ithaca in Tompkins County, on March 20 and initial test results indicated a possible outbreak of the H5N1 avian influenza (AI) virus. On March 21, the farm was put under quarantine following positive test results from the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab. A full 120-day quarantine period for the farm is required. This week, at least 500 of DEC’s breeder flock of 6,600 pheasants died from HPAI.

DEC is working closely with animal health experts at the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (AGM) and the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory and following standard protocol for an outbreak of HPAI.

Cooperatively managed by DEC, AGM and USDA, the remaining breeder flock of pheasants on the property is being depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease in accordance with standard HPAI response protocols. Birds from the flocks will not enter the food system. As part of existing avian influenza response plans, AGM and USDA are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in areas around the affected flock. Additional information on the USDA response plan can be found at USDA APHIS | Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) (leaves DEC website).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the recent HPAI detections in birds do not present an immediate public health concern. HPAI cases in humans are rare, and symptoms are typically mild. The risk of a person becoming infected is low.

DEC will continue to work with partners at AGM and USDA in a swift and thorough response to the outbreak.

More information on HPAI may be found at (the following links leave DEC’s website):

CDC Avian Influenza

Avian influenza | Cornell Wildlife Health Lab

USDA Avian Influenza Updates 2022

USGS HPAI Distribution 2021/2022


Content originally published by Department of Environmental Conservation: