Officials with the Nevada Department of Wildlife reported this week that multiple cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) have been confirmed in Reno. The cases were confirmed in geese and ducks, which recently have also been reported to be dying from botulism and struggling in algae-infested ponds.
HPAI often circulates in wild waterfowl populations in Nevada without showing signs of illness and with low death rates, according to NDOW officials. However the virus was detected in July in a flock of backyard chickens in Carson City.
Wildlife officials said the current strain of the virus appears to be fairly low risk for humans. However, they advise people working near or with wild birds or waterfowl to take precautions to avoid personal exposure and the spread of the virus to domestic birds and animals.
“HPAI typically doesn’t have much of an impact on the overall population of waterfowl,” NDOW Wildlife Veterinarian Nate LaHue said. “However, with waterfowl hunting seasons approaching, we encourage hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to take proper precautions to keep themselves and their pets safe and help prevent the spread of HPAI to domestic birds.”
According to NDOW biologists, HPAI can pose a high risk of death – up to 95% – in birds of prey including owls, raptors and eagles; grouse; and domestic birds including chickens. Some mammals, including dogs, are susceptible to infection as well.
NDOW provided these tips for hunters:
- Never handle, consume, or bring home sick or dead waterfowl.
- Harvest only birds that appear and act healthy.
- Wear gloves and eye protection when cleaning birds and do so in a well-ventilated area.
- Remove intestines and discard soon after harvesting and avoid direct contact with them.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke while handling carcasses.
- Wash hands after handling game and clean equipment.
- Cook all game to an internal temperature of 165F before consuming.
- If you are planning to hunt in Canada, please see recent transport restrictions for harvested wild birds at the following link: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/newsroom/stakeholder-info/sa_by_date/sa-2022/canada-wild-bird-game-carcasses
More information for people who own domestic birds or backyard poultry is online at agri.nv.gov/Animals/Avian/. Sick birds should be quarantined immediately and reported to the USDA at (866) 536-7593 or NDA Animal Disease Lab at 775-353-3709 or [email protected].