The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed Eurasian H5 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in a wild, hunter-harvested American wigeon in Limestone County, Alabama.
In January 2022, Eurasian H5 HPAI was detected in South Carolina and has since been detected in 14 additional states. HPAI H5 viruses infect the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts of birds, can spread rapidly, and cause high mortality in infected poultry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk to humans from Eurasian H5 HPAI is low. No case of Eurasian H5 HPAI in humans has been identified in the U.S. For more information about the risk of avian influenza to humans, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/h5n1-virus.htm.
The USDA monitors for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations. Samples were collected for testing from the hunter-harvested American wigeon in Limestone County during routine monitoring for the disease. Preliminary tests were positive for Eurasian H5 HPAI. Additional testing by the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the positive results.
Wild birds can be infected with avian influenza without appearing sick. Hunters should minimize direct contact with wild birds by using gloves. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.
The public is encouraged to report dead or dying bird sightings to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) for collection and testing. To report a sighting, call ADCNR’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division at (334) 242-3469. It is important to avoid contact with any dead or dying bird.
For information regarding HPAI and domestic poultry, please contact the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. Contact information is available at agi.alabama.gov.