By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Photo Credit: Matt Idler
The discovery of a highly contagious bird disease among a flock of ducks in Johnson County has state officials warning people with poultry to keep their birds away from wild birds.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that “highly pathogenic avian influenza,” more commonly known as “bird flu,” has been detected among a flock of ducks in Johnson County.
While the illness is not a serious threat to humans, domestic poultry flocks can be quickly infected, said state Veterinarian Dr. Hallie Hasel.
“It’s highly contagious to poultry,” she said.
The disease can easily infect chickens, turkeys and other poultry and cause severe illness or sudden death, according to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The USDA is working with the Wyoming Livestock Board to remove the infected ducks from the area where they were found and to make sure the birds do not enter the food system.
While the illness does not pose an immediate public health concern, it can spread to those who have been in direct contact with infected birds, Hasel said.
“Wyoming Public Health will be in touch with those who have been in contact with the flock,” she said.
Residents with poultry flocks are being advised to keep the birds separate from wild birds by keeping the poultry in enclosed areas.
Hasel said the threat posed by the illness should decline as migratory patterns change.
“There is lots of migration now,” she said. “But it will decrease.”
The threat posed by bird flu fluctuates annually, she added.
“The risk changes from year to year,” she said. “We don’t have a complete explanation for that.”