News Releases

FWC, partners monitoring birds for avian influenza to protect public health

News Release

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Media contact: Carli Segelson, 727-896-8626

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services and partner agencies are wrapping up a five-year avian influenza monitoring project. The project was designed to determine if migratory birds carried the Asian strain of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) virus to the U.S. All samples collected by the FWC and other state partners tested negative for any highly pathogenic strains.

Biologists started the project in 2006 in an effort to rapidly detect and quickly respond should a highly pathogenic strain reach the U.S. There have been no reported cases of avian influenza in humans in the United States but a number of people in other countries became sick or died from that virus after extensive, direct contact with infected poultry. The USDA and its partners collected more than 450,000 samples nationwide, including 5,200 plus samples from Florida.

In Florida, much of the success of this project came from the voluntary participation of duck hunters who allowed biologists to sample the birds they harvested. Biologists collected nearly 3,000 samples at hunter check stations in several of Florida's wildlife management areas. Biologists sampled a wide variety of duck species, including the northern shoveler, gadwall, mottled, mallard and green and blue winged teal. The remaining Florida samples came from bird die-off investigations from marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats as well as from live birds, which were captured and released.

While the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus has not been found in the U.S., it is still important to take common-sense precautions to reduce the risk of contracting any disease from wildlife. For more information about avian influenza, including guidelines for handling wild birds, visit MyFWC.com/Wildlife and click on "Health & Disease," then "Avian Influenza."

To report observations of dead birds so die-offs can be investigated, visit MyFWC.com/Bird.



FWC Facts:
Although black bears in western states may have several color phases, all black bears in the eastern United States, including Florida black bears, are black.

Learn More at AskFWC