BISMARCK, N.D. – With avian influenza spreading throughout the country and confirmed cases in wild birds and domestic poultry in neighboring states, residents should not attempt to assist, move, rehabilitate or dispatch wild birds and should avoid bringing wildlife home. Poultry owners should practice increased biosecurity to help protect their birds.
“To date, there have been nearly 450 detections in wild birds and 51 detections in commercial and backyard flocks throughout the country,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “In 2015, North Dakota had two cases of H5 HPAI in Dickey and LaMoure counties, affecting well over 100,000 birds combined. Producers learned firsthand the hardship this virus can cause.”
“With waterfowl migration in full swing, we encourage producers to restrict access to property, keep wild birds away from their owned birds and practice enhanced biosecurity,” North Dakota State Veterinarian Dr. Ethan Andress said. “If you have poultry at home or have neighbors or family with backyard birds, wash your hands after any wild animal encounters, change clothing before returning to chores and use a dedicated pair of boots in your own barn.”
Poultry owners should immediately report unusual death loss, a drop in egg production or sick birds to their local veterinarian to decrease the impact HPAI may have on the region. Hunters who are also bird owners should dress game birds in the field whenever possible and use dedicated footwear and tools to clean game that are not used on their property or near the coop.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has received a number of reports of sick or dead geese over the past week and will continue to monitor the outbreak in wild birds as it unfolds.
“Additionally, we’d ask that people please avoid disturbing sick birds since this adds stress and it is illegal to possess live game species taken from the wild,” Game and Fish Veterinarian Dr. Charlie Bahnson said.
Sick or dead wild birds should be reported through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s online form at https://gf.nd.gov/wildlife/diseases/mortality-report.
Centers for Disease Control considers the risk to people from HPAI infections to be low despite the disease often being fatal for birds. No human infections with the viruses have been detected in the U.S. and birds from infected flocks do not enter the food system.
The United States has the strongest avian influenza surveillance program in the world, and the USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.