Although low risk, bird flu was discovered in Ballard County


On Friday, federal officials notified the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources that avian influenza — or “bird flu” — has been detected in some waterfowl in the state.

First and foremost, the public health risk posed by this disease is low – and meat harvested from wild birds does not pose a food safety risk when handled and cooked properly.

But recent tests at the United States Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services National Laboratories have confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in samples from two sick snow geese taken from the Ballard Wildlife Management Area in the Ballard County.

This detection follows recent findings of avian influenza in commercial poultry operations in Fulton and Webster counties, and as such, federal and state agencies recommend that anyone involved in poultry production – from commercial producers to those who have small backyard flocks – to review biosecurity practices to ensure the health of their birds.

Dr. Christine Casey, wildlife veterinarian for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, noted that there are many different subtypes of bird flu viruses, and they are classified as “low” or “high” pathogenic. based on their ability to produce disease in domestic poultry.

Wild waterfowl, she says, don’t usually show signs of disease — but mortality can occur in wild birds infected with stronger strains.

In recent months, several cases of bird flu have been discovered along the Mississippi Flyway.

The public health risk posed by avian influenza in wild birds and poultry is low. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no cases of the bird flu virus have been detected in people in the United States.

Avian flu does not pose a risk to food safety. Wild game is safe to eat when properly handled and cooked to the recommended temperature; cooking at an internal temperature of 165 degrees kills bacteria and viruses.

Guidelines for hunters
— Do not harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick or found dead.
— Wear gloves and wash your hands with soap and hot water after handling wild birds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
— Disinfect any materials (eg, knives, equipment and surfaces) that come into contact with dead birds. — Use tools dedicated to cleaning game and avoid using them near poultry or pet birds.
— Avoid touching your eyes or mouth while cleaning game.
— Double bag feathers and other remains. Tie the inner bag, remove your gloves and leave them in the outer bag before closing it. Then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. Place the bag in the trash and close the lid on the receptacle.

The public can report sightings of sick or dead wild birds (waterfowl, wild turkeys, birds of prey and other wild birds) directly to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife through an online reporting system at https://arcg. is/1KaDKT.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife requests reports of wild bird deaths among the following birds:
— Waterfowl (ducks, geese and swans) and other aquatic birds (loons, grebes, coots, shorebirds or waders such as egrets, herons or cranes);
— Birds of prey (hawks, eagles, owls) or other avian scavengers (crows, ravens or gulls), especially those observed near waterfowl mortality sites;
— Wild turkeys;
— Five or more individuals of bird species not listed above.

The online reporting system is also accessible through the Avian Influenza webpage on the ministry’s website (


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