Additional Detections of Avian Influenza Confirmed in Montana

Department of Livestock
  • September 20 2022

September 20, 2022

Dr. Tahnee Szymanski, MT Dept. of Livestock, (406) 444-5214,
Dr. Martin Zaluski, MT Dept. of Livestock, (406) 444-2043,

Additional Detections of Avian Influenza Confirmed in Montana

Helena, Mont. – On Tuesday, September 13, 2022, the Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) confirmed Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in a Teton County poultry flock. This is the 11ᵗʰ HPAI affected Montana flock linked to a 2022 wave of HPAI infections in the United States traced to seasonal migrations of wild birds.

Since September 1st, Montana and eight other states have confirmed infections in domestic poultry.  Due to ongoing detections, MDOL has reinstated recommendations to house birds indoors including birds enrolled in certified organic programs. Enrolled producers should contact their certifier before moving birds indoors to ensure program compliance.

“While the route of disease introduction has not been determined, exposure to wild birds or their excreta is the most likely source.” stated Martin Zaluski, the Montana State Veterinarian.  “Preventing contact between wild birds and domestic poultry is still our most effective tool to keep poultry healthy.”

Infected birds can exhibit signs such as swollen eyes, discolored comb and legs, significant drop in egg production or water and feed consumption. In 2022, the most common presentation has been sudden death of multiple birds within a flock. When avian influenza is suspected, samples from these flocks are submitted to the Montana Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MVDL) and tested. 

Infected flocks are placed under quarantine and required to depopulate all remaining birds on the premises to prevent further disease spread. Flock owners are eligible to receive indemnity on birds from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Depopulation of the Teton County flock is underway. In addition to restrictions on the affected flock, the Department will conduct disease surveillance of poultry premises within 10 km of the affected premises. Surveillance is conducted by contacting premises to inquire about any sick birds and weekly sampling for premises that may sell poultry or poultry products.

Avian influenza is an infectious viral disease of birds that can cause high mortality rates in domestic flocks. Migratory waterfowl are the primary source for avian influenza (AI). Wild birds can be infected and appear healthy but shed virus in the feces, saliva, and respiratory secretions. Domestic poultry become infected through direct contact with infected wild birds, or through contact with contaminated objects, equipment, or the environment.

Biosecurity measures to protect flocks include:
  • Prevent contact between wild or migratory birds and domestic poultry, including access by wild birds to feed and water sources.
  • House birds indoors to the extent possible to limit exposure to wild or migratory birds.
  • Limit visitor access to areas where birds are housed.
  • Use dedicated clothing and protective footwear when caring for domestic poultry.
  • Immediately isolate sick animals and contact your veterinarian or MDOL.
The department encourages all poultry producers to immediately report sudden onset of illness or high death loss in domestic poultry to their veterinarian or the department at (406/444-2976). If you find sick or dead wild birds that have died from unknown causes, please contact your local FWP Warden, Biologist or Regional office, or call the FWP wildlife veterinarian (406/577-7880).

While HPAI is considered a potentially zoonotic disease, CDC continues to consider the risk to people from wild birds, backyard flocks, and commercial poultry to be low.

Existing safeguards to keep food safe and wholesome are sufficient to protect people, and the food supply in the United States is one of the safest in the world. As a reminder, the US Department of Agriculture recommends cooking poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The mission of the Montana Department of Livestock is to control and eradicate animal diseases, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and to protect the livestock industry from theft and predatory animals. For more information on the Montana Department of Livestock, visit

For more information on biosecurity, please visit the USDA website at

For more information on national cases of HPAI, please visit the USDA website at

For information on human health concerns and HPAI, please visit the CDC website at