10 avian flu cases detected across 6 Utah counties
SALT LAKE CITY — Wild birds in six counties across Utah have tested positive for avian flu, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
The first case was confirmed earlier this month in Cache County, and since then, cases have emerged in Weber, Salt Lake, Utah, Tooele and Carbon counties.
DWR officials say as of May 26, 10 wild birds have tested positive for avian flu in the state.
“The birds include Canada geese, great horned owls, hawks, pelicans, turkey vultures and ducks. Test results from other dead birds are currently pending,” stated a release Thursday from DWR.
Some of the most recent cases include two pelicans and a Canada goose found dead on the shore of Scofield Reservoir in Carbon County.
According to DWR officials, the pelicans were found on May 13 and the goose was located May 16. The birds were sent to the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Logan for testing before being sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, where it was confirmed they had avian flu.
“The Department of Environmental Quality confirmed the drinking water from Scofield Reservoir would not be impacted by avian flu, since the water is treated. Normal recreational activities, such as fishing and swimming should also not be impacted,” stated the release.
High pathogenic avian influenza viruses are very contagious among birds, according to DWR, and can cause rapid and high mortality in domestic birds, such as chickens, turkeys and domestic ducks.
Wild birds occasionally die from the viruses as well.
“The most common wild birds impacted by the virus are typically waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and scavengers (which include birds like hawks, owls, ravens and vultures.) There are typically few symptoms in waterfowl and shorebirds, but the virus can kill raptors and scavengers quickly,” stated the release.
DWR officials say the virus is spread through nasal and oral discharge as well as fecal droppings. It can also be spread to backyard poultry and domestic birds through contaminated shoes or vehicles.
“Songbirds are not typically affected by avian flu, so people shouldn’t have to remove bird feeders unless they also have backyard chickens or domestic ducks, which are susceptible to the virus. However, it’s always recommended to regularly clean bird feeders and baths,” stated the release.
Although the current strain presents a low risk to people, at least one case of human bird flu has been confirmed in Colorado.
In Thursday’s press release, the public was reminded not to touch any dead birds they find, and instead report it to the nearest DWR office.
“If anyone finds a group of five or more dead waterfowl or shorebirds or any individual dead scavengers or raptors, they should report it to the nearest DWR office and absolutely make sure not to touch the birds or pick them up,” DWR Veterinarian Ginger Stout said. “Just report it to us, and we will come collect them for testing. We are continuing to monitor this virus in wild bird populations. It typically doesn’t have much of an impact on the overall populations of waterfowl, but it’s likely that we will have some die now that it’s been confirmed in wild birds in the state.”
The last outbreak of avian flu in the United States occurred in 2014-15, when the disease was detected in wild birds of the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyaways, according to DWR.
“During that outbreak, the virus was detected in two healthy ducks in Utah,” stated the release.
For more information about the current avian flu outbreak in wild birds, visit the DWR website.
To report any symptoms of avian flu in domestic birds, contact the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
For more information on how to stay safe, visit the CDC’s website.
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