HEALTH

DWR confirms contagious avian flu cases in 4 more Utah counties

Jan 11, 2023, 4:09 PM
Geese carcasses...
File photo of Canadian geese carcasses. (DWR file photo)
(DWR file photo)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said it had confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza in birds in four additional counties.

According to a news release, DWR said all of the cases in the additional counties were confirmed between Sept. 29 and Jan. 7.

The virus has now been confirmed in Cache, Carbon, Davis, Duchesne, Millard, Morgan, Salt Lake, Sanpete, Summit, Tooele, Uintah, Utah, and Weber counties.

High pathogenic avian influenza viruses are very contagious among birds and can cause rapid and high mortality in domestic birds, such as chickens, turkeys and domestic ducks. Typically, these viruses only occasionally kill wild birds, but this strain is more pathogenic and has been killing more wild birds,” the release stated.

The Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Logan detected the virus in 102 birds and three red foxes. DWR also sent the samples to a lab in Iowa.

The release said, “The birds infected with the virus in Utah include raptors and waterbirds, specifically Canada geese, great horned owls, hawks, pelicans, turkey vultures, grebes, gulls, ravens, and ducks.”

Here’s how DWR broke down the most recent cases:

Uintah County

  • A red-tailed hawk was found in western Uintah County on Jan. 1.
  • Several other dead birds were also found in the county, and test results are currently pending.

Duchesne County

  • A Canada goose was found in a yard in Roosevelt on Jan. 3.
  • Six Canada geese and one duck were found near Roosevelt on Jan. 4.
  • Another Canada goose was found in a yard in Roosevelt on Jan. 5.
  • A dead goose was found in Myton on Jan. 7.
  • Several other dead birds were also found in the county, and test results are currently pending.

Summit County

  • A duck was found in Summit County on Sept. 29.

Morgan County

  • A duck was found in Morgan City on Oct. 12.

“The outbreak is still ongoing, so we are still advising anyone who finds a group of five or more dead waterfowl or shorebirds — or any individual dead scavengers or raptors — to report it to the nearest DWR office. Make sure you don’t touch the birds or pick them up,” DWR Veterinarian Ginger Stout said. “Report it to us, and we will come collect them for testing. We are continuing to monitor this virus in wild bird populations. This particular strain is affecting more wild birds and is more widespread than the last outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the U.S.”

Much like the flu in humans, DWR said cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza decrease in the summer, although there was an increase in detections and positive cases during the fall migration and winter months.

“The last outbreak of avian flu in the U.S. occurred in 2014–15 when highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza were detected in wild birds of the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyways. During that outbreak, the virus was only detected in two healthy ducks in Utah,” the release stated.

Nationwide impact on egg prices

A nationwide outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza is being blamed for the recent spike in egg prices.

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is closely monitoring the price of eggs and expects prices to level off and fall once supply rebounds.

“Nationwide, egg prices as of Dec. 21 were up about 205% compared to 2021,” said department spokesperson Bailee Woolstenhulme.

The rapid price increase can be blamed on shortages caused by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak.

“Avian influenza has about a 90% mortality rate with all birds,” Woolstenhulme explained.

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DWR confirms contagious avian flu cases in 4 more Utah counties