- Press Release: Avian influenza confirmed in wild birds in Florida
- April 2022: A U.S. case of avian influenza A(H5) virus (H5 bird flu) has been reported in Colorado.
- April 2022: Black vultures are currently the species most commonly diagnosed with HPAI in Florida. HPAI has also been documented in Muscovy ducks in multiple locations in Florida.
- February 2022: HPAI H5N1 has been confirmed in Palm Beach, Brevard, and Volusia counties. Species clinically affected so far include lesser scaup, royal tern, black vulture, and bald eagle. Tests are pending for pelicans, herring gulls, crows, and screech owls. There are also northern gannet deaths reported but these may be natural mortalities during migration.
- January 2022: Samples collected by USDA-Wildlife Services from hunter-harvested blue-winged teal in Palm Beach County have tested positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) strain: H5N1 18.104.22.168b Eurasian.
- This follows similar reports of the H5N1 Eurasian strain from South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador) this past fall and winter (2021-2022).
- This strain has been documented in Europe since early 2021.
- FWC is monitoring for HPAI in birds found sick or dead of unknown causes.
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Florida by County – updated 6/23/2022
Since January 2022, HPAI H5 has been confirmed in 28 counties in Florida. Four counties have suspected HPAI clinical cases but were not tested.
Species with clinical disease with presumptive or confirmed HPAI H5 infection in Florida since February 2022:
- Waterfowl - lesser scaup, hooded merganser, mallard duck, Muscovy duck, Canada goose
- Waterbirds - royal tern, brown pelican, blue heron, laughing gull, ring-billed gull, herring gull, common loon, wood stork
- Raptors - great horned owl, bald eagle, red-shouldered hawk
- Scavengers - black vulture
Ways to help prevent HPAI spread
- Report bird mortalities so die-offs can be investigated and tested.
- Prevent contact of domestic or captive birds with wild birds (especially waterfowl).
- Do not handle sick or dead wildlife.
- Most wildlife rehabilitation facilities in affected areas are not taking sick waterfowl, waterbirds, raptors, or scavengers (vultures, gulls, crows).
- Follow routine precautions listed below when handling wild birds.
- Prevention and Antiviral Treatment of Bird Flu Viruses in People
We ask the public not to handle sick or dead birds, however, we strongly encourage the reporting of all sightings of dead birds to the bird mortality database. Wild birds involved in die-offs will be collected, examined, and tested for Avian Influenza, West Nile Virus, Exotic Newcastle's Disease, and/or other infectious agents of concern.
The HPAI virus is not easily transmissible from birds to people but health officials are concerned it could develop into another form that spreads readily from person to person, triggering a global disease outbreak known as a pandemic. While it is extremely unlikely that hunters or people feeding birds could contract the HPAI virus from wild birds in Florida, the following common-sense precautions are always recommended to reduce the risk of contracting any disease from wildlife.
- Wear rubber gloves while cleaning game.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while cleaning game.
- Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol wipes immediately after handling game.
- Wash tools and work surfaces used to clean game birds with soap and water, then disinfect with a 10% bleach solution.
- Separate raw meat, and anything it touches, from cooked or ready-to-eat foods to avoid contamination.
- Cook game birds and poultry thoroughly. Meat should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill disease organisms and parasites.
For more detailed guidelines concerning the handling of wild birds, please see the USDA Guidance for Hunters.
- Do not harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick or found dead.
- Bird feeders and bird baths should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. With avian influenza present in wild birds in Florida, avoid placing bird baths and feeders in proximity to domestic poultry.
- Wear rubber gloves while cleaning bird feeders.
- Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol wipes immediately after cleaning bird feeders.
- Prevent contact of domestic or captive birds with wild birds (especially waterfowl)
For detailed guidelines concerning the handling of wild birds by wildlife rehabilitators, please review the FWC's Recommendations to reduce the risk of highly pathogenic avian influenza transmission in wildlife rehabilitation centers.
About Avian Influenza
Wild birds can carry a number of strains of the avian influenza viruses, most of which do not cause disease. However, transmission of low pathogenic strains (causes minimal signs of disease in domestic poultry) to poultry can result in changes in the virus and the formation of more highly pathogenic strains (can cause significant disease in domestic poultry).
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is investigating mortality events involving wild bird populations by monitoring and investigating reports of wild bird die-offs. FWC is working in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, University of Florida, National Wildlife Health Center, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, Florida Department of Health, and wildlife rehabilitators on this initiative.