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Avian Flu

What is highly pathogenic avian influenza?

Avian influenzas are categorized based on the severity of the symptoms they cause in chickens. Low pathogenic avian influenza viruses do not cause illness in poultry and are common in wild birds around the world. Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, such as H5N1 detected in 2022, often causes death to poultry but symptoms in other birds are variable. Federal and state agencies, as well as universities, are actively monitoring for the virus in the United States.

How can I track Avian Influenza in Ohio?

Current information on highly pathogenic avian influenza can be tracked in Ohio and around the country through the Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership Event Reporting System (WHISPers): WHISPers (usgs.gov)

The National Wildlife Health Center is also a good resource for updated information about avian influenza: National Wildlife Health Center | U.S. Geological Survey (usgs.gov)

What precautions should I take while viewing wildlife?

The public should observe wildlife from a distance. Exercising caution protects against possible exposure to pathogens that cause disease and minimizes disturbance to wildlife. Routine personal hygienic precautions should be taken when around domestic and wild birds. Thoroughly washing hands with soap and water (or with alcohol-based hand products, if the hands are not visibly soiled) is a very effective method for inactivating any influenza virus, including HPAI H5N1. These viruses are also inactivated with many common disinfectants such as detergents, 10 percent household bleach, rubbing alcohol and other commercial disinfectants.

What are symptoms of Avian Influenza in birds?

In general, wild or domestic birds with any of the avian influenza virus types may exhibit one or more of the following signs:

  • Decreased egg production
  • Sudden death without clinical signs
  • Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks
  • Nasal discharge
  • Lack of coordination

What should I do if I see birds exhibiting symptoms?

All Ohioans can report sick or dead birds at 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) or wildohio.gov. Use the following recommendations when reporting specific bird species suspected of HPAI:

  • Any raptor, such as a bald eagle
  • Multiple waterfowl, such as geese or ducks
  • Any other large congregation of sick or dead birds.