Kansas City, Kan. — Domestic poultry flocks in the Sunflower State are at increased risk of contracting Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or HPAI – a highly contagious influenza type A virus that’s carried by wild waterfowl. Because light goose hunters are likely to encounter wild birds this time of year, KDWP is asking hunters to engage in best practices to minimize inadvertent spread of the virus that can cause severe illness and/or sudden death in domestic poultry flocks.
“Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is carried by ducks, geese and shorebirds and presents itself differently in different species,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) wildlife disease coordinator Shane Hesting. “Some wild birds carry it without symptoms, while some get sick and die. There is also the chance the virus is adapting and becoming more virulent, so we must be as vigilant as possible to prevent unintentional spread to new areas.”
What Hunters Need To Know
- HPAI is carried by ducks, shorebirds and geese – including light geese.
- Birds at risk for contracting the virus include: raptors, domestic poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl), cranes, swans, and scavenger birds like vultures, magpies, crows, and pelicans.
- HPAI can be transmitted on clothing, shoes and equipment containing waterfowl residues.
- Following exposure, HPAI can remain present in the environment for extended periods of time, including cold, untreated water for two weeks or more.
- According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. And, avian influenza does not present a food safety risk when poultry and eggs are handled and cooked properly.
What Hunters Can Do
- Wear nitrile gloves when handling or cleaning wild birds; wash hands and arms thoroughly with soap and water; and, change clothes and shoes immediately thereafter, especially before approaching domestic flocks.
- Keep wild waterfowl separate from domestic birds; do not let domestic birds roam in areas frequented by wild waterfowl or where wild waterfowl have been cleaned or disposed of.
- Do not transport sick and/or dead birds, wild or domestic, away from where they were found.
- Report sick wild birds, or unusual wild bird deaths, to KDWP’s Emporia Research and Survey Office at (620) 342-0658 or send an email to Hesting at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Bird owners who suspect their domestic flock has HPAI should contact their veterinarian or the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s (KDA) Division of Animal Health toll-free at 833-765-2006).
“KDWP continues to work alongside our partners at the state and federal level to monitor this virus, but minimizing its spread requires the help of everyone, hunters included” added Hesting. “Stay vigilant, follow proper biosecurity protocols, and if something doesn’t appear right in a flock, be sure to report it.”
For more information on HPAI, visit KDA’s avian influenza webpage at agriculture.ks.gov/AvianInfluenza or the APHIS website at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/avian-influenza/2022-hpai.