Experts watching bird flu cases, but not a huge concern yet in Virginia

Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 3:02 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Bird flu is affecting poultry flocks in 29 states, including Virginia. One isolated case has so far been found in a backyard flock in Fauquier County.

Experts are closely monitoring the situation, and farmers are advised to be vigilant, but there is no reason to panic.

“For the general population, there’s really not a big concern with the outbreak. You know, it’s not a food safety issue or public health concern to the general public,” Virginia Poultry Federation President Hobey Bauhan said.

“From the backyard or feeding perspective - which is what we know about here at the shop - the avian influenza outbreak is not of huge concern to us,” Wild Birds Unlimited owner Scott Karr said. “That is basically because the disease is found almost exclusively in poultry, shore birds and aquatic birds, ducks, geese, etc.”

Poultry farmers should take extra steps to protect their flocks, such as making sure wild birds can’t mix with their livestock.

“Any detection of high-path avian influenza in a flock, the flock will have to be depopulated,” Bauhan said. “It has a devastating impact on on the flock owner.”

Backyard bird enthusiasts just need to make sure their feeders are clean. This helps prevent against any disease birds may carry.

“You’re putting out food for your birds, and you’re putting it into a container that they eat out of, you want to eat off of clean plates,” Karr said. “I’m not saying that your bird feeders need to be as clean as the plates you eat off at home, but you should pay attention to them and give them a good spray every couple of weeks.”

If you see a dead bird, make sure to pick it up using gloves and a plastic bag.

“Feeding the birds is about individual pleasure and enjoyment and doing something nice, and we have people who get very anxious about these kinds of things,” Karr said. “Honestly, if your anxiety exceeds your pleasure, then you should take your feeders down.”

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