Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   




Avian Influenza Detected in Texas

Two cases of avian influenza in wild birds were verified in Texas in early May. 

A great horned owl at a rehabil­itation facility in Wichita County was the first such confirmed case in a wild bird in Texas, followed quickly by a confirmation of a case in a bald eagle in Bosque County.

While cases have quieted following spring migration, there could be an uptick this fall, according to TPWD wildlife veterinarians.

The highly contagious virus transmits easily among wild and domestic bird species and has been detected in 42 states. Symptoms include incoordination, depression, diarrhea, coughing and sneezing and sudden death, though birds may not always have outward signs of infection. The virus may spread through contact with infected wild and domestic birds as well as by contaminated equipment, feed, water, clothing and shoes
of caretakers.

Of the 1,635 wild birds in the U.S. that have tested positive for the disease, 668 are bald eagles, 350 are geese and 81 are ducks.

“It does seem like upland game birds have high susceptibility, and we have seen a fair amount of mortality occur in eagles, as well as black vultures,” says Shaun Oldenburger, TPWD small game program director. “With anything that could prey on waterfowl, we’re seeing high susceptibility.”

Currently, the transmission risk of avian influenza from infected birds to people remains low, but the public should take basic protective measures if contact with wild birds cannot easily be avoided.

Fall hunters should wear disposable gloves while handling game and wash their hands afterward. Dress game birds in the field, if possible, using dedicated tools and disinfecting between birds. Cook game meat to appropriate temperatures (165 degrees Fahrenheit).

Contact TPWD if you see any sick birds or unusual bird deaths. 

 TPWD staff;  Allison Lanier

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