OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As health leaders across the country research cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza, state officials say they have confirmed a positive case in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service have confirmed a positive case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Sequoyah County.

Officials say the virus was found in a commercial poultry flock.

“While this case of HPAI is not unexpected, we have prepared for this and are working closely with USDA and livestock producers to control and eradicate this disease from our state,” said Dr. Rod Hall, State Veterinarian for Oklahoma. “We have activated our Avian Influenza Response Plan and are working diligently with federal partners to prevent further spread of the virus.”

Flock owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds. Also, report sick birds or unusual deaths to state officials.

If producers suspect signs of HPAI in their flocks, they should contact their veterinarian immediately.

Possible cases should also be reported to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture at (405) 522-6141.

Symptoms of HPAI in poultry include the following:

  • Decrease in water consumption
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Decreased egg production
  • Soft-shelled, misshapen eggs
  • Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks
  • Purple/blue discoloration of the wattles, comb, and legs
  • Gasping for air or difficulty breathing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Incoordination
  • Diarrhea.

Experts stress that the virus can also cause sudden death in birds, even if they are not showing symptoms.

The virus can spread through droppings or nasal discharge of an infected bird, which can contaminate dust and soil.

Beginning May 1, all poultry exhibitions, public sales, and swap meets are banned in Oklahoma until further notice. Officials say the move is necessary to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

The ban is set to end on July 30.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPAI does not present an immediate public health concern.