Last week, in Avian Flu Suspected In 2nd Washington State Backyard Flock we looked at concerns expressed by Utah officials that they might soon follow Washington, Oregon and California in the detection of HPAI H5N8 in wild birds, as they share a common migratory bird flyway.
Today Utah activated their Avian influenza response plan after tests confirmed this emerging avian influenza in an American Wigeon duck taken by hunters last week in Davis county. Additional birds are being tested.
While H5N8 has now been found in migratory and wild birds across four American states, it has not yet sparked any commercial poultry outbreaks in North America. While considered a serious threat to commercial poultry, has yet to be linked to any human illnesses.
The state of Utah has activated a multi-agency response plan following the confirmation of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in a wild bird in Davis County. The avian influenza virus strain H5N8 was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa in an American widgeon duck, on Jan. 9, 2015. Several other wild birds taken by hunters near the Great Salt Lake in Davis County are also undergoing tests.
There is no immediate public health concern due to the recent detection of the avian influenza virus.
“This discovery of avian influenza in a wild bird is not unexpected, considering that Utah sits in a major migratory bird flight path,” said Dr. Warren Hess, Acting State Veterinarian with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. “The possibility of the disease being transmitted to domestic backyard bird flocks remains high, and we advise bird owners to take extra biosecurity measures to protect their flocks.”
High Pathogenic Avian Influenza was recently found in wild or domestic birds in California, Oregon and Washington. The avian influenza strains involved have not been implicated in any human infection to date. The USDA states that all poultry, poultry products and wild birds are safe to eat as long as they are properly handled and cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit .
The virus has not been found in commercial poultry anywhere in the US. Surveillance for avian influenza is ongoing in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations.
The UDAF is advising commercial poultry growers and backyard flock owners to be vigilant with biosecurity measures and surveillance.
“We have not diagnosed avian influenza in Utah’s domestic poultry population, but the presence of the virus in migratory waterfowl poses a potential risk to our backyard poultry,” Dr. Hess says. “This event underscores the importance of biosecurity for backyard bird owners. We strongly encourage owners to eliminate any contact between their birds and wild birds. We also want them to monitor their flock closely and report sick birds.”
Backyard flock owners and domestic poultry owners can report sick birds to the State Veterinarian’s office at 1-801-538-4910 or by calling the USDA toll free at 1-866-536-7593. Also, if anyone finds wild bird carcasses that are not near power poles or roads, and that involve five or more carcasses of the following species, please contact the DWR: Waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, scavengers such as crows and ravens, as well as quail and turkeys. Sick and dead wild birds should be reported to a local DWR office or by calling 801 538-4700.
The DWR is advising hunters to take routine precautions when handling game, including wearing latex or rubber gloves when cleaning birds, washing their hands with soapy water after cleaning, cleaning and disinfecting equipment and surfaces that come in contact with wild birds (e.g. washing with soapy water and disinfecting with a 10 percent chlorine bleach solution), and cooking wild birds thoroughly before eating the meat.
Utah’s commercial poultry industry has a robust avian influenza testing program. In addition, the DWR routinely conducts mortality surveillance of wild bird populations. The HPAI virus has not currently been found in commercial poultry anywhere in the United States.
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is working closely with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and the Utah Health Department, and the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS).
Detailed information for backyard bird owners is available here.