Avian Influenza: Precautions and Practices
Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, is a respiratory disease in birds caused by influenza A viruses. While wild birds like ducks and shorebirds can carry these viruses asymptomatically, avian influenza can be fatal for domestic poultry. The disease transmits through direct contact or contaminated environments, including water, surfaces, and feed. To prevent the spread of avian influenza, especially for those handling game or owning poultry, specific precautions are recommended.
Precautions When Hunting
- Avoid harvesting or handling wild birds appearing sick or found deceased.
- Practice good hygiene, washing hands with soap and water after handling game, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if water is unavailable.
Safe Handling and Dressing of Game Birds
- Use disposable gloves while handling or cleaning game, and wash hands immediately afterward.
- Preferably dress game birds in the field. If not feasible, do so away from poultry and other birds.
- Maintain dedicated footwear and tools for game dressing. Avoid using these items around poultry or pet birds.
- Dispose of offal and feathers securely in double bags, ensuring they are inaccessible to other birds or animals.
- Clean and disinfect all tools and surfaces post-use with a chlorine solution (1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water).
After Contact with Wild Birds
- Refrain from handling visibly ill or deceased wild birds.
- Use disposable gloves for cleaning bird feeders and practice thorough hand hygiene afterward.
Personal Protection Measures
- To minimize the risk of avian influenza transmission to humans, avoid eating or drinking during and immediately after handling game.
- Ensure strict separation between uncooked game and other foods to prevent cross-contamination.
- Cook game meat to an internal temperature of 165 °F to effectively kill any disease organisms and parasites.