Waterfowl birds - male mallard and seagulls in river or pond. Close up of Anas platyrhynchos, drake mallard duck.

Avian Flu outbreak continues in wild birds for second year straight in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE — H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (Avian Flu) is now killing wild birds for the second year in a row, according to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officials.

Last year, the disease began from the arrival of infected migratory waterfowl to Louisiana, but stopped after the birds migrated north in Spring of 2023.

For a second year, the migration of the waterfowls caused a resurgence of the Avian Flu. LDWF officials say that many different species of birds can be infected, especially geese and other waterfowl. Birds infected may exhibit neurological symptoms, which lead to death. Scavenging raptors, like vultures, are then susceptible to the disease if they eat the diseased bird’s body.

Public health officials consider the Avian Flu to be of minimal threat to humans, however, sick birds should not be handled. LDWF recommends that domestic poultry be segregated from other wild birds to avoid transmission of the disease.

Humans, dogs, cats, and other mammals are mostly immune to the Avian Flu. Individuals who hunt should be cautious about allowing their dogs to retrieve waterfowl that show signs of neurological disfunction. There have been no reported cases of dogs being infected as of this report.

Wildlife rehabilitators should avoid bringing potentially infected birds into their sanctuaries to prevent the spread of the disease within the facility. Clothing and other objects or healthy waterfowl, which may touch infected birds, should be washed thoroughly and kept away from other birds.

UWK spoke at length with Dr. Jim LaCour on the spread of the avian flu this year. (Interview below)

Investigative Producer, Katherine Read, interviews Dr. Jim LaCour from LDWF about avian flu.

Sick or dead birds should be reported to regional LDWF: Hammond Office: 985-543-4777, Lake Charles Office: 337-491-2575, Lafayette Office: 337-262-2080, Minden Office: 318-371-3050, Monroe Office: 318-343-4044, Pineville Office: 318-487-5885

More information about HPAI may be found on the following websites:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/avian-in-birds.htm

https://www.fws.gov/avian-influenza

For more information or questions, please contact State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. James M. LaCour at jlacour@wlf.la.gov or Assistant State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Rusty Berry at rberry@wlf.la.gov

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