Investigation of risk factors for introduction of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 infection among commercial turkey operations in the United States, 2022: a case-control study

Introduction: The 2022-2023 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 outbreak in the United States (U.S.) is the largest and most costly animal health event in U.S. history. Approximately 70% of commercial farms affected during this outbreak have been turkey farms.

Methods: We conducted a case-control study to identify potential risk factors for introduction of HPAI virus onto commercial meat turkey operations. Data were collected from 66 case farms and 59 control farms in 12 states. Univariate and multivariable analyses were conducted to compare management and biosecurity factors on case and control farms.

Results: Factors associated with increased risk of infection included being in an existing control zone, having both brooders and growers, having toms, seeing wild waterfowl or shorebirds in the closest field, and using rendering for dead bird disposal. Protective factors included having a restroom facility, including portable, available to crews that visit the farm and workers having access and using a shower at least some of the time when entering a specified barn.

Discussion: Study results provide a better understanding of risk factors for HPAI infection and can be used to inform prevention and control measures for HPAI on U.S. turkey farms.