First US bird flu case since 2016 confirmed in South Carolina

COLLETON COUNTY, SC (WCBD) – The first case of bird flu detected in the United States since 2016 has been confirmed in a wild duck harvested by a hunter in Colleton County.

Officials at the Clemson Veterinary Diagnostic Center first tested the bird, “and the diagnosis was confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS)” .

The virus poses a low risk to humans, but could pose a serious threat to the South Carolina poultry industry.

According to Julie Helm, veterinarian and poultry specialist at Clemson Livestock Poultry Health, there are two best practices for protecting poultry flocks:

Keep it away: Keep your poultry and pets away from wild ducks and geese and their surroundings – ponds, lakes and marshy areas. Be careful not to trace wild waterfowl virus back to your herd if you hunt or hike in the wild waterfowl environment. Buy new birds from a reliable source. Keep new birds or returning show birds separate from your established original flocks for 30 days. Keep pests (rodents, raccoons, opossums, rabbits) away from bird enclosures. Keep visitors out of your birding areas; What can they carry on their feet, clothes or vehicles?

Keep it clean: Clean cages and chicken coops. Clean any equipment first before it enters your property. Wear designated farm shoes and clothing to care for your birds. Wash your hands before and after working with your birds. Change the birds’ food and water daily. Wash your vehicles and trailers after visiting other poultry facilities and before returning home – Go to a car wash.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary and Wildlife Services has offered the following advice:

  • Do not harvest or handle obviously sick or dead wild birds.
  • Dress your game birds in the field whenever possible. If you must dress birds at home, clean them in an area where your poultry and pet birds do not have access.
  • Keep a separate pair of shoes to wear only in the cleaning area of ​​your game. If this is not possible, wear rubber shoes and clean/sanitize your shoes before entering or leaving the area.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke while cleaning game.
  • Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning game or cleaning bird feeders.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling game or cleaning bird feeders. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol wipes.
  • Use dedicated tools for cleaning game, whether in the field or at home. Do not use these tools around your poultry or pet birds.
  • Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water, then disinfect them.
  • Avoid cross contamination. Store uncooked game in a separate container away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Thoroughly cook the game meat; poultry must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill pathogenic organisms and parasites.
  • Double bag the offal and feathers. Attach the inner bag; be sure to remove your rubber gloves and leave them in the outer bag before closing it.
  • Place the bag in a trash can that poultry and pet birds cannot access. This bin should also be secured against access by children, pets or other animals.

Editor’s Note: This story is out of date and will be updated.

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