March 21, 2022
PIERRE, S.D. – The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected in both domestic poultry flocks and wild birds in South Dakota.
Avian flu, commonly referred to as bird flu, occurs in all bird populations, especially waterfowl, shorebirds, and domestic fowl.
“The current strain appeared in both Canada geese and snow geese and other waterfowl in January in the eastern U.S and Canada,” said South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) senior waterfowl biologist, Rocco Murano. “Detections have now been found throughout the Atlantic, Central and Mississippi flyways.”
Avian flu is very similar to the seasonal flu that occurs within human populations Murano explained.
“This particular strain appears to be more severe in that it impacts wild birds, and more transmissible among these wild bird populations. With the spring migration, large numbers of birds are mixing together and moving across the landscape. The good news is that like the human flu, as the weather gets warmer, the virus is less present,” Murano said.
South Dakota has seen avian bird flu in 2008 and 2015, but wild bird mortality did not occur in those outbreaks. Although this strain seems to be more present in wild birds, mortality rates should be low and not have any population affects.
Avian flu is rarely transmitted from birds to humans, but precautions should be taken around dead or obviously sick birds.
“At this point, we are asking folks to report sick or dead birds, especially waterfowl,” Murano said.
GFP is asking citizens to report sick or unknown cause of death waterfowl, raptors, water birds or avian scavengers. Look for symptoms of unusual behavior, loss of coordination, or the inability to fly or walk properly. We recommend you avoid handling these sick or dead birds and report them to GFP at [email protected] or your local conservation officer.
Murano went on to say that snow goose hunters should not worry about the outbreak. Cooking harvested birds to 165 degrees, and making sure to dry all their gear before their next hunting outing are two important takeaways for hunters. Harvested birds must be retrieved from the fields and carcasses properly disposed.