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DEC confirms bird flu at Tompkins County game farm

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

DEC initiated an investigation into suspicious deaths at the Game Farm, located near Ithaca in Tompkins County, on March 20. 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. This week, at least 500 of DEC’s breeder flock of 6,600 pheasants died from HPAI.

As part of standard HPAI response protocols, 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. The remaining breeder flock of pheasants on the property is being depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flocks will not enter the food system.

Cooperatively managed by DEC, AGM, and USDA, additional surveillance and testing will be conducted in areas around the affected flock. The USDA response plan can be found at USDA APHIS | Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

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 to respond to the outbreak thoroughly and swiftly.