A recent alert from the Center for Disease Control warns of an outbreak of a particularly virulent strain of “Bird Flu”, (Avian Influenza A) in the United States. More than 40 million birds have been infected or exposed in 20 states. Affected animals include both wild birds and commercial and backyard poultry. To date, there have no reports of human infections, however with the rapid spread of the disease the potential exists for spread to human population. As a result, the CDC recommends that people avoid direct contact with wild birds, and only observe the animals from a distance. The USDA recommends the following advice:
- Do not pick up dead or obviously sick birds. Contact information is below if you find such animals
- Wear rubber gloves when cleaning your bird feeders
- Wash hands with soap and water after cleaning feeders
- Do not eat drink or smoke when cleaning bird feeders
- Hunters should not handle or consume game animals that are obviously sick or found dead.
People with domestic birds or poultry should also exercise care and wear protective equipment when dealing with sick or dead birds and their waste products. In addition, anyone with signs and symptoms of respiratory disease or conjunctivitis after such exposure should alert their physician to the possibility of exposure to the virus. Finally, always remember to properly cook poultry products before eating. There have been no reported cases of human infection after eating properly cooked poultry.
Please report sick, dying, or recently dead waterfowl (ducks and geese), shorebirds (sandpipers, plovers) or other water birds (herons) found at any location to Mass. Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MDFW), Westboro Field Headquarters 508-389-6300 or USDA 413-253-2403.
Larger bird die-offs of other species can be report to the closest district office of MDFW:
Western Wildlife District in Dalton- 413-684-1646
Central Wildlife District in West Boylston- 508-835-3607
Connecticut Valley Wildlife District in Belchertown- 413-323-7632
Northeast Wildlife District in Ayer- 978-772-2145
Southeast Wildlife District in Buzzards Bay- 508-759-3406