Home Part of States Newsroom
New Mexico chicken farm infected with avian influenza


New Mexico chicken farm infected with avian influenza

Apr 17, 2024 | 2:01 am ET
By Danielle Prokop
New Mexico chicken farm infected with avian influenza
Chickens roost indoors on a Suffolk Farm on November 14, 2007 in Stradbroke, England. A New Mexico poultry farm is the latest in a H5N1 outbreak of avian influenza, state agriculture and livestock officials confirmed Tuesday. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

State livestock and agricultural officials announced Tuesday evening a chicken farm in Roosevelt County was infected with avian influenza, following federal confirmation of samples. Every bird at the farm will be killed.

Samples were first taken from the Eastern New Mexico farm on April 10, a press release for the New Mexico Livestock Board stated.

It’s not clear if the infections in New Mexico chickens are related to the six confirmed cases of avian influenza in New Mexico dairies.

Avian flu confirmed in NM dairy cows in two Curry County herds

“We simply don’t know,” said Shelton Dodson, the spokesperson for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. He further said the state is collecting and sending samples to federal officials to help trace the virus’ genome.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has not published an official reason for the “crossover” of the virus into cattle, but updated their initial findings in a report published April 16.

“Wild migratory birds are believed to be the original source of the virus. However, the investigation to date also includes some cases where the virus spread was associated with cattle movements between herds,” the report stated. “Additionally, we have similar evidence that the virus also spread from dairy cattle premises back into nearby poultry premises through an unknown route.”

It’s unclear if that case of spread from cows to poultry is in New Mexico.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service declined to make anyone available to comment on Tuesday, but a spokesman said the federal agency would provide an interview to Source New Mexico later in the week.

Dodson said he did not know how many birds were at the Roosevelt County facility, deferring comment to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Here’s what to watch for avian flu symptoms in backyard flocks and other domestic animals

Avian influenza is often deadly to chickens, but all the birds on the premises will be killed, the release stated.

Federal officials have separately confirmed that six dairies in Curry County have cases of avian influenza, called H5N1, since April 1. The most recent confirmed case at a New Mexico Dairy was April 10.

The number of confirmed cases in dairies has grown, with now eight states. As of April 16, those states are Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Idaho, South Dakota, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have listed the human risk of infection from H5N1 as low, but that people who work with animals have higher risks.

A Texas dairy worker contracted avian influenza after working with infected cows, on April 1, the second reported case in the U.S. The most prominent symptom was conjunctivitis, or a reddened eyes.

The New Mexico Department of Health told Source NM that two dairy workers have been tested for HPAI, but both results were negative.

Avian Influenza symptoms in birds

The New Mexico Livestock Board urges Roosevelt County residents to watch for the following signs in their poultry

  • Sudden death without any prior symptoms of illness;
  • lack of energy and appetite;
  • a drop in egg production or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs;
  • swelling of the eyelids, comb, wattles, and shanks;
  • purple discoloration of the wattles, comb, and legs;
  • gasping for air (difficulty breathing);
  • nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing;
  • twisting of the head and neck (torticollis);
  • stumbling or falling down;
  • diarrhea

The New Mexico state veterinarian’s office number is (505) 841-6161. People can also email [email protected]. A full list of official state vets nationwide can be found here.