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Avian Influenza Information

DEQ collaborates with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service and Virginia Poultry Disease Task Force to advance the knowledge and resources available for combating outbreaks of Avian Influenza (AI) or Avian Flu in Virginia. Additionally, DEQ continues to work closely with staff in the Office of Veterinary Services within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to assist poultry growers with appropriate carcass disposal practices when related to AI and other diseases.

The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak has become the largest animal health emergency in U.S. history. As of January, 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports 235 detections (214 commercial facilities and 21 backyard flocks) affecting approximately 50 million birds in 23 states. To date, over $950 million federal dollars have been spent on disease control efforts and indemnities. The infected birds have either died from the disease or been euthanized to control disease spread. Proper carcass management is vital for managing nutrients and controlling disease. Improper disposal may cause odor nuisance, spread disease, and the resulting leachate could negatively impact water sources. Mortality management options that were used during the recent HPAI outbreak include composting, burial, incineration, and landfilling. The most commonly implemented disposal option was mass mortality composting. The purpose of mortality composting was to use biological heat treatment methods to degrade the carcass, inactivate the avian influenza virus, control odors and reduce fly exposure in a safe, biosecure, and environmentally sustainable manner. As a result of the outbreak, a national composting technical team was formed by the USDA, and a mortality composting protocol for avian influenza infected flocks was published. A series of videos provides an overview of mass poultry mortality composting and is intended for use as educational tools for the poultry industry, state and federal agencies, and emergency response contractors.

Recommendations and Guidance

Factsheets of Disposal Methods

Evaluations of Disposal Methods

Published Articles

Video Series

Other Links


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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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