How YOU can help prevent the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza
What is Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza?
Bird Flu, known to the scientific community as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), emerged in North America in 2022 presenting potentially catastrophic consequences to domestic and wild birds in a changing world. Wild waterfowl and shorebirds are considered to be the most at risk.
Stopping the spread of this disease presents new challenges and expenses for rehabilitators. New screening protocols require expensive testing and separate quarantine facilities to know which birds may be carrying the disease before they can be cleared to be admitted without risking other patients. At Bird Rescue, we have made significant changes to our intake procedures to respond to this growing crisis and protect the avian patients in our care.
Wildlife rehabilitators aren’t the only ones who can help protect birds from this virus, YOU can make a difference too!
How you can take action to help stop the spread of HPAI:
- Disinfect Your Shoes. If you have been out birding or walking around areas like parks and ponds with an abundance of birds, disinfect the bottoms of your shoes. First, be sure to thoroughly clean off all dirt from your shoes. Then treat the bottoms with a solution like diluted bleach and leave them in the sun to dry.
- Manage Bird Feeders Responsibly. Although songbirds and hummingbirds have a lower risk of contracting HPAI, feeders should be cleaned and disinfected at least weekly to reduce the risk of spreading diseases (including salmonella, mycoplasma, avian pox, etc.).
- Report Sick or Deceased Birds. Please alert your state’s Fish and Wildlife Department via its mortality reporting website if you come across any birds that appear unwell. In wild birds, symptoms have mainly been neurologic [tremors, bluish eyes (corneal edema), incoordination, head-twisting, seizures], but in poultry symptoms also include respiratory problems and sudden death.
- Be aware that some species may be asymptomatic. Dabbling ducks, such as Mallards and their ducklings, may be infected but not show symptoms of the disease, so call your local wildlife center if you find these types of birds in places where they wouldn’t normally be.
- Take Special Care Around Domestic Birds. If you work around and/or have backyard domestic fowl (chickens, ducks, and turkeys), use a second special set of clothing and shoes for this work to avoid cross-contamination. For more complete information on reducing risks in backyard poultry see: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/ahfss/Animal_Health/Avian_Influenza.html
- Support your Local Wildlife Rehabilitator. Whether it’s making a financial contribution, volunteering, or simply educating yourself and others about issues like HPAI, we need the help of all humans to rise to this challenge.