Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is a highly contagious disease that rapidly spreads from bird to bird. Not only does this disease affect domestic poultry, but also ducks, geese, parrots, quail, pheasants, pigeons, guinea fowl, and many other birds.
As you may know already, the United States has been hit hard with a widespread Avian Influenza epidemic this year, occurring from January 2022 to present day. Commercial and backyard flocks have been decimated across the country, and several wild bird populations have also taken a hit. The virus reached California this summer and has since spread into commercial poultry productions, backyard flocks, and several wild bird species.
Keeping Your Pets Safe
Protecting your feathered companion from this current strain of HPAI should be a priority. Mitigating or eliminating potential exposures of your bird to Avian Influenza virus is the best way to defend against HPAI. Here are a few tips to do your best to keep HPAI away from your bird(s):
- Change your clothing and clean your shoes after arriving home, especially before going near your bird.
- Wash your hands before and after tending to your bird or their enclosure. If desired or available, wearing disposable latex or nylon gloves can prove useful.
- Eliminate or greatly reduce the amount of time you allow your birds to leave their enclosure. It is highly recommended to keep them indoors, if that is where their enclosure is.
- Keep visitors around your bird to a minimum.
- Keep any wild birds away from your companion and your home, if possible.
- Watch your bird’s health closely.
What to Look For
Even if you are extremely careful, sometimes the virus can still find its way to susceptible birds. During this current outbreak of HPAI, we have seen numerous species of birds carrying and succumbing to the virus, rather than mostly waterfowl. Keeping an eye on the well-being of your bird is vital to keeping your pet happy and healthy. Here is a list of symptoms often exhibited by birds once contracting Avian Influenza:
- Lack of energy and appetite
- Lack of coordination
- Coughing or wheezing
- Clear, runny nasal discharge
- Swelling of the head or eyelids
- Soft-shelled or misshapen eggs
- Sudden and unforeseen death of a perceivably healthy bird
If your bird begins to exhibit any of these symptoms, isolate the infected bird(s) from any others you may tend to, and watch the rest closely. If you have a companion suddenly pass, contact the California Sick Bird Hotline at: 866-922-2473.