HONOLULU – More than 2,400 miles separate California from Hawaii, but officials with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) aren't taking any chances when it comes to preventing avian influenza from taking hold in the state.

HDOA officials are spreading the word to poultry and bird owners to implement and maintain good biosecurity measures. Several confirmed outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5 bird flu virus in the Pacific Flyway – which includes California, Utah, Nevada and Idaho – prompted officials to encourage bird and poultry owners to monitor flocks for symptoms of disease or dead birds.

“Hawaii may be geographically far from other land masses, but some migratory birds do fly to Hawaii,” said Scott Enright, chairman of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “Bird owners, particularly those who keep their birds outdoors should take precautions, be vigilant and report any symptoms of diseased or dead birds in their flocks.”

In response to the bird flu outbreaks on the mainland, HDOA officials established strict bird import regulations which require permits, inspections, health certificates, and in some cases, isolation periods before arrival and physical identification. The state also embargoed bird imports through the mail.

HDOA said the agency's veterinarians have been closely monitoring the outbreaks and have implemented pre-entry AI test requirements on imported poultry and birds. Additionally, the agency placed import restrictions on all poultry, other birds, hatching eggs and day-old chicks from zones in states with confirmed outbreaks. Poultry within Hawaii are under continuous surveillance, HDOA said.