You’ve heard about the thousands of turkeys and ducks on farms being destroyed because of the avian flu. But, the flu that’s in the state right now has also affected species that you won’t find on a farm. Biologists say there’s no cause for alarm. But, they are concerned.
“More specifically to wildlife, it primarily affects water fowl and raptors,” said Michelle Benavidez, a biologist with the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources, on Indiana Outdoors radio.
“Here in the state we’ve had a few positive detections. The first one was last month in March in a redhead duck. We’ve also had two bald eagles and a red tailed hawk that have tested positive,” she said.
Benavidez said one of the main concerns is that the strain of avian flu, which is Eurasian, and likely came here via migratory birds, is highly pathogenic, meaning it has the potential to cause huge bird die offs. But, so far that hasn’t happened.
“It’s only been a couple of detections. So, we are primarily surveying birds that are displaying neurological signs of an infection. Thus far the incidents of this have been rather low,” she said.
But, because of the way it spreads, it bears watching both on farms, and in the wild.
“As far as how it spreads from bird to bird, it’s spread through things like saliva and feces and other bodily fluids,” said Benavidez. “When you’re talking about domestic birds, it could be a case of having dirty shoes, walking in an area where there have been AI positive birds and then walking into a domestic farm.”
The DNR could use your help if you observe any wild birds, especially water fowl or raptors, displaying signs of the avian flu, like lack of energy, loss of appetite and coordination; purple discoloration and/or swelling of various body parts; diarrhea; nasal discharge; coughing; or sneezing, and abnormal eggs.
“Whenever we hear about susceptible species especially eagles or water fowl that are displaying signs, we test them right away. So, it’s important that we hear about them right away.”