After the harshest wave of Avian Flu since 2016, how will this year’s new emergence affect the waterfowl population?
Waterfowl and most birds face many different dangers, almost daily. Everything from a hungry coyote looking to pick off a turkey, to a young hunter out by the water ready to bag his first duck! This year, however, they face a far greater threat. That is Avian Influenza, and it’s a much larger threat than one would think and may become a bigger issue than you think!
Now, Avian Influenza, better known as Bird Flu, outbreaks are nothing new. They happen from time to time affecting different areas and wildlife in multiple different ways. This has been detrimental to birds and people alike in various parts of the world such as Asia, Africa, Europe, parts of the Pacific, and the Near East, causing illness and even death. While this usually doesn’t affect North America in similar ways, cases do make it through and wreak havoc if left unchecked.
Per the current CDC numbers, there have been 1,558 cases in wild birds, 40,088,623 cases in poultry, and only one case in humans. I know these numbers don’t seem scary until you look at the poultry and some waterfowl…and remember that’s something that we as humans eat. All this information is available via the link above and I highly recommend you check it out and see the numbers for yourself. This disease can cause many ailments that run similar to those experienced in the common cold. Although it is rare for this disease to jump from birds to humans, it is important to know that it can and to know ways to prevent it!
Steps to Mitigate:
So, the most common place where individuals may be exposed to Avian Influenza is hunters cleaning their waterfowl after a successful harvest. During this time you’re plucking, gutting, and practically bathing in any sort of grossness that bird had on it or in it. There are still good ways to protect yourself though. Wear gloves, wear a pair of shoes specifically for cleaning waterfowl, don’t clean birds near your cooking area, and wash thoroughly afterward. Luckily for us, cooking the bird always gets rid of the disease and makes it safe for us to enjoy. These small steps may seem to hinder your experience or become annoying, but they are well worth it if it makes the difference in catching Avian Influenza or not.
Overall, this virus is mostly a concern for our feathered friends more so than us. However, there is the looming threat of it jumping to humans so it’s wise to stay cautious and take the necessary steps to avoid it! Quick little fun fact about Bird Flu, so far they have found it can also jump to some zoo animals such as leopards and tigers, as well as jumping to small game animals such as wild foxes and skunks. The CDC closely monitors this and updates the information on their site almost daily, fully detailing the current metrics of Avian Influenza in the U.S. and around the world. I recommend everyone keep a clean space to butcher your waterfowl, keep an extra pair of clothes to clean said game, and beyond all else, wash your hands!