BOZEMAN - Last week, Fish Wildlife and Parks reported two cases of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in two wild birds in Montana.
Morgan Jacobsen, Communication and Program Manager at FWP says the last Avian Influenza outbreak took place in 2015. The two new cases were located in Southwest Montana.
“One in a snow goose up in Canyon Gerry and one in a Canada Goose in Belgrade,” says Jacobsen.
Chickens and turkeys are susceptible to catching Avian Influenza. The concern is that the worry is that waterfowl such as geese and ducks may also carry the disease without showing symptoms.
“Highly transmissible to domestic poultry are very susceptible to it [and] wildlife,” says Jacobsen.
The news of the two wild birds with the disease follows news of domestic flocks in Montana also detecting the disease.
The Montana Department of Livestock announced on Friday, April 8, 2022, confirmation of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in two Montana flocks. These are the first cases of HPAI reported in domestic poultry in Montana since 2015. Montana is the 25th state to report cases of HPAI in domestic poultry in 2022.
The agency said in a news release that one of the flocks is a backyard flock in Judith Basin County and the other is a small layer and meat-bird operation in Cascade County. The flocks were reported to MDOL following increased rates of mortality and were confirmed to have the HPAI H5 strain associated with the outbreak occurring in other parts of the country.
FWP says that a good way to spot birds who may be infected.
“Five or more dead waterfowl that are close by to each other,” says Jacobsen.
One way to slow the spread is getting rid of bird feed from trees.
“[It] reduces the chances for birds to congregate in your yard,” says Jacobsen.
For humans, his best piece of advice is to keep humans from catching the influenza.
“Use gloves when you are handling dead birds, don't harvest or eat birds that appear to be sick,” says Jacobsen.
FWP asks Montanans to report any dead or sick wildlife that might be suspicious.
“Dead waterfowl, or other dead birds, any unexplained mortality to call in and report those to fish wildlife and parks,” says Jacobsen.
The number for the Bozeman lab to report cases to is 406-577-7880 or 406-577-7882.