MANHATTAN (KSNT) – A commercial turkey flock in McPherson County has tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) on Monday.

This is the first time that a commercial turkey flock has tested positive for HPAI in Kansas. The KDA is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to handle the situation.

According to the KDA, the turkey farm was on high alert for any signs of the disease and, upon seeing possible signs of HPAI, immediately reached out to the KDA. The farm has since been placed under quarantine and the birds are to be humanely euthanized and disposed of in an approved manner to prevent the disease from spreading.

The KDA went on to say that a 20-kilometer surveillance zone would be placed on the surrounding area and other farms or properties with poultry that fall within that zone would not be allowed to move birds or poultry products on or off their property without the KDA’s permission.

If you own poultry and you live in the southern half of McPherson County, the northeast corner of Reno County, or the northwest corner of Harvey County, including the communities of McPherson, Moundridge, Buhler, Inman, or Conway, contact the KDA at 833-765-2006 or kda.hpai@ks.gov.

HPAI is described as a contagious viral disease that can infect turkeys, chickens, and other birds, causing severe illness and/or sudden death in infected birds.

Poultry owners should keep a close watch on their birds for possible symptoms of the disease including coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge and other signs of respiratory distress; lack of energy and appetite; decreased water consumption; decreased egg production and/or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs; incoordination; and diarrhea. Birds are known to suddenly die from HPAI without displaying any symptoms.

Contact your veterinarian if you see these signs in your birds or reach out to the KDA’s Division of Animal Health Office at 833-765-2006 if you don’t have a regular veterinarian.

All those involved with poultry production in Kansas should review biosecurity measures to assure their birds remain healthy regardless of how many birds they own. To learn more about biosecurity activities, check the KDA’s Division of Animal Health website here.

While the disease does pose a significant threat to birds in Kansas, it does not present an immediate danger to humans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No human cases of HPAI have been detected in the U.S. However, the KDA recommends that you properly handle and cook poultry and egg products to an internal temperature of 165 degrees as a general food safety precaution.

The KDA first reported the presence of HPAI in Kansas on March 9 and its spread has prompted Kansas zoos to take up additional precautions to keep their birds safe while the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks recently put out a warning to hunters who are looking for ducks, shorebirds and geese.