Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)

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Commonly Infected Wildlife

Highly pathogenic avian influenza can infect all birds, including wild birds like hawks and geese, and domestic birds such as chickens and turkeys.

Check here for more information from Missouri Department of Agriculture about risks to domestic birds from avian influenza.

It is not necessary to remove backyard bird feeders. Songbirds do not appear to be major carriers of this virus, so are at low risk from this avian influenza strain. Widespread removal of feeders is not an effective way to reduce the spread since waterfowl and raptors do not visit bird feeders frequently. However, removing bird feeders is a wise precautionary measure for anyone who also keeps chickens, ducks, or other domestic birds.

Check here for more information from All About Birds regarding risks to songbirds from bird feeders.

Is This Animal Infected?

Some birds infected with HPAI will exhibit neurological symptoms - tremors, head tilting, lethargy, loss of coordination, inability to fly or walk properly, or trouble standing upright. HPAI is fatal, so often the indicator is discovery of multiple dead birds together.

Please email wildlifehealth@mdc.mo.gov to report sick or dead WILD birds.

Contact your veterinarian and the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health division at (573) 751-3377 if you see sickness in domestic birds.

Can I Get It?

Avian influenza does not present an immediate public health concern. On rare occasions it has infected humans and other animals. Use common sense precautions and do not handle sick birds or birds that died of unknown causes.  On April 28, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first detection of this strain of avian influenza in a person in the U.S. The case was not in Missouri, and the person had direct exposure to poultry with presumptive H5N1 bird flu. The patient reported fatigue for a few days as their only symptom and recovered. The CDC still considers the risk to humans/general public to be low.

Check here for more information from the Center for Disease Control about human health risks of avian influenza.

Is it Safe to Eat Meat?

It is safe to eat poultry and wild game birds because normal cooking temperatures are hot enough to kill the virus. Make sure to cook your meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hunters are advised to take common sense precautions when handling harvested birds in the field or at home. They should be aware that it is possible to transport avian influenza viruses on boats, waders, or other equipment, especially if it isn’t dry before moving it from one site to another.

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Current Situation (Fall 2022)

  • In September, HPAI was detected in waterfowl returning from arctic nesting grounds in northern states.  We expect a return of the virus and likely will see diseased birds.   
  • A national multi-agency response to increase surveillance in wild birds is underway. MDC has contacted wildlife rehabilitators, falconer groups, and other key stakeholders to assist with surveillance. 
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HPAI Results (Fall 2022)

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