Avian flu confirmed in Pueblo County

(MGN Online)
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 8:00 AM MST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2023 at 8:15 AM MST
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PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - Health officials are warning citizens to be cautious around birds after avian flu was confirmed in Pueblo County.

The city-county health department announced the presence of the virus in a social media post late last week.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, a new strain of avian flu, HPAI, or highly pathogenic avian influenza, was first detected in northeastern Colorado nearly a year ago and has been causing widespread disease in some wild birds, such as swans, gulls, geese, grebes, pelicans, raptors, vultures, cranes, some species of ducks, and turkeys. Unlike previous strains, domestic birds have also been affected, with more than 4.7 million domestic poultry birds in Colorado alone dying from the outbreak in 2022. This unprecedented death toll has been felt at grocery stores, as eggs have become harder and harder to come by and more and more expensive.

“That represents more than 85% of our total table egg-laying population in the state,” Maggie Baldwin, state veterinarian with Colorado’s Department of Agriculture, told sister station CBS Denver in November.

The strain is almost always fatal in poultry.

While some mammals like foxes and skunks have been infected, CPW says it’s uncommon for people to catch it -- but, even if rare, some strains can indeed infect humans.

“The main protection for the general public is to avoid handling sick or dead birds and keep your distance from wildlife,” CPW said.

Same goes for your pets: protect them by keeping them away from dead birds and other wildlife.

Wildlife officials say to contact the local CPW office if three or more wild birds are found dead in the same area within a two-week period, or if any birds are seen exhibiting signs of disease. Those symptoms include swimming in circles, moving slowly, incoordination (may appear drunk), and head tilt or inability to lift the head. Sick birds that try to fly would likely be flying low and alone.

More information on avian flu can be read here.