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Polis declares disaster emergency after bird flu outbreak at Weld County commercial egg facility

Due to the outbreak, 1.78 million chickens will have to be killed.
Colorado Chickens
Posted at 11:35 AM, Jul 10, 2024

WELD COUNTY, Colo. — Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared a disaster emergency following the latest avian flu outbreak at a commercial egg facility in Weld County.

On Monday, samples submitted from the producer tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Officials said 1.78 million chickens will have to be killed as a result.

The state veterinarian has issued a quarantine order in parts of Weld County in order to limit the movement of birds in and out of the area. Commercial or backyard poultry owners in the quarantine area are asked to report the status of their flock through this online form.

In neighboring Larimer County, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories at Colorado State University (CSU) tests all animal samples from Colorado, meaning it discovered the most recent avian flu outbreak in Weld County.

The lab operates within CSU and is led by Dr. Kristy Pabilonia, a veterinarian with a PhD in microbiology.

“Why you're seeing [bird flu] more in northern Colorado is because we have a big concentration of livestock operations in this area. So we're seeing it in domestic poultry and then also cattle," said Pabilonia. “Whether that's commercial poultry or backyard flocks is really devastating because of that high mortality rate... With birds, the response is typically to depopulate them because they are very sick and they're not going to survive influenza.”

According to the latest report from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, more than six million birds have been affected by HPAI since the outbreak first began in early 2022.

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Pabilonia said the virus is being seen in cattle, too.

“As far as cattle go, we're not really seeing mortality. We're seeing changes in milk and milk production and then depressed behavior, lethargy in those cattle," said Pabilonia. “It's still very significant, though, because it's having an effect on the production system for that producer and really their livelihood.”

The disaster emergency declaration means the state can help the impacted producer with response, recovery, and mitigation efforts.

Those with Governor Polis' office said they will not be identifying the impacted facility because of the Livestock Information Protection Act.

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