Officials at the New York Department of Environmental Conservation are warning residents about the Avian Influenza!

What does this mean? Is this the next wave of the pandemic? Not quite. The DEC have announced that the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus has been found in multiple wild bird species in several areas of New York State. What about humans? Are we in harms way?

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The DEC suggests that we stay away from wild birds but, to date, this bird flu has not infected any humans in the United States and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these recent cases of HPAI do not present an immediate public health concern. What about our pets?

There are reports that, although rare, some pet birds have been infected with the Avian Flu and have died. The latest strain of the disease is showing the potential of killing a large number of wild birds and domestic poultry which could effect New York farms. If your animals have food and water sources that wild birds can also access there is a chance of virus transmission.

Photo by James Lee on Unsplash
Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

Looks like we have Europe to thank for this latest strain. The Avian Flu has been cooking there for a couple of years. Late last year it was detected in North America and now in New York and our border states.

Here are the New York Counties where the Avian Flu has been detected in captive chickens, pheasants, and ducks.

  • Dutchess
  • Ulster
  • Monroe
  • Fulton

The Avian Flu was detected in free-ranging wild birds in these New York Counties:

  • Cayuga
  • Clinton
  • Montgomery
  • Monroe
  • Onondaga
  • Seneca
  • Suffolk
  • Nassau
  • Livingston
  • Wayne counties

While the risk of a person becoming infected is low, individuals can protect themselves by only harvesting game that appears to be healthy and properly cooking any game meat being eaten to an internal temperature of 165° F.

If handling wild birds individuals should follow precautions such as using personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and eye protection, and washing hands thoroughly.

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