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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Cavanaugh

Avian Influenza cases continue to rise in US birds

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was detected in the United States in December of 2021. There are two strains (originally from Eurasia) being monitored, the EA H5 and EA H5N1. The CDC says there is very low risk to the public, but it is important to keep an eye out for any sudden changes. There is a concern for domestic flock workers, as well as wildlife rehabilitators. There are currently 36 states with confirmed wild bird flu cases.

Here is a frequently updated page from the USGS with map graphics.

USGS Map of Distribution of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5 and H5N1 in North America, in Relation to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Refuges and National Park Service Lands, 2021/2022. Credit.

Florida has not reported any domestic flock cases, but was among one of the first states to see wild HPAI cases, with Brevard County having the most confirmed cases to date. Commonly identified flu bird species included waterfowl, vultures, great horned owls, pelicans, federally protected bald eagles, and more in Florida. For further reading about Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's involvement in the fight against HPAI, click here. For nationwide daily wild bird reports from the USDA, click here. There are currently over 1,000+ entries in the US.

As of May 16th, only one person has tested positive in the United States with the H5N1 virus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the public risk is very low, but precautions must be taken for anyone working with poultry or wild or domestic birds. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are 318 flocks and 37.87 million domestic birds in 34 states affected by HPAI. Daily updates for domestic flocks can be found here.

Some quick tips:

  • Avoid all sources of exposure to wild birds whenever possible.

  • If you are in direct contact with sick poultry, protective wear and proper disinfection is recommended, along with proper removal of any gloves or facemasks.

  • If you travel outside the US, the CDC recommends to avoid poultry farms or markets that may sell live poultry products.

  • Keep your domestic birds away from wild birds and practice proper sanitation.

Information from the CDC about how to further protect yourself from Avian Influenza can be accessed here. Instant CDC updates can be acquired here.

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