Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), commonly called avian flu, continues to spread among Vermont’s wild bird population since its initial detection in a pair of bald eagles on April 8.
HPAI has now been detected in four bald eagles, one red-tailed hawk, three Canada geese, one wood duck, and one turkey vulture in Vermont. Infected birds have been found in all regions of the state.
“We ask Vermonters to continue reporting possible cases of HPAI in wild birds to wildlife officials,” said David Sausville, wildlife program manager for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. “Public reports allow us to monitor the virus’ spread for potential impacts to wild and domestic bird populations.”
The latest guidelines for identifying and reporting possible cases of HPAI can be found in the Wildlife Health Bulletin on the department’s web page. To conserve laboratory resources only new species will be tested in locations where HPAI has not been detected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk to the general public from this HPAI virus to be low. However, people who have job-related or recreational exposures to infected birds should take appropriate precautions outlined in CDC guidance.
Two human cases of avian influenza A(H5) virus have been detected, one in the U.S. and one internationally. The U.S. case was transmitted through contact with domestic poultry infected with HPAI.
“As of now, there have been no reports in Vermont of human infection resulting from exposure to HPAI in either domestic fowl or wild birds, and influenza in poultry does not constitute a food safety risk,” said Dr. Natalie Kwit, state public health veterinarian with the Vermont Department of Health.
Sausville advised individuals with backyard flocks to be sure to review safety and biosecurity guidelines. In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and birdfeeders should be taken down to reduce congregation by wild birds.
Those seeking information about avian influenza in domestic birds, including biosecurity guidelines and reporting, should contact the Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets’ Animal Health Office at 802-828-2421.