Avian Flu: be aware but not alarmed


SAN LUIS VALLEY — Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, HPAI for short, has now been detected in the SLV according to a recent article by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), and more wild bird mortalities have been reported since the announcement.

This is a sad situation, and we want the public to be aware but not alarmed. Unless you are a commercial or backyard poultry producer, or a waterfowl hunter, this will most likely have no affect on you. Transfer of the virus to humans is extremely rare.

If you are a poultry producer, now is the time to take extra precautions to ensure your flock remains safe. The most effective way for you to protect your flock is to modify your coop and runs so that no wild birds can mingle with your flock, enter their area, or share feed or watering equipment. Keep a separate pair of boots or shoes to wear only into your poultry pens and disinfect them regularly with something like bleach or Lysol. It is highly advised to keep your flock closed, meaning do not bring new domestic birds in right now. If you have recently brought new birds into your flock, it is advised to separate and quarantine the new birds for 21 days.

The Colorado Department of Ag has a great webpage dedicated to information on HPAI and gives excellent and specific recommendations on how to control the spread of the disease for producers, hunters, and for citizens who might come across a wild bird carcass.

In general, if you are a hunter, you should not take birds that appear to be ill, you are advised to wear gloves while cleaning and handling your harvested birds, and to wash your hands and hunting clothes when finished.

If any citizen should see wild bird carcasses on public ground, you are advised not to touch them and to call our CPW office to report them.

If a citizen were to find a wild bird carcass on you own property and want to dispose of it, you can use this link to the CDA website and read the specific recommendations: CDA: Avian Flu.

You can also call the Extension office at 719-852-7381, or your own county’s Emergency Manager for more specific recommendations.

Also remember this is a reportable disease. This means if you are a producer and have sick or dying birds, you are to call your veterinarian or the Colorado Department of Agriculture immediately.

If you see three or more wild birds sick or dead in a two-week period, call the Colorado Parks and Wildlife office. Other numbers you can call to report sick or dead birds include the CDA State Veterinarian at 303-869-9130, or the CSU Avian Health Team at 970-297-4008.

More In Opinion