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Avian Influenza Found in Two Dead Turkey Vultures at UW

April 20, 2022

In the past few days, two turkey vultures found dead on the University of Wyoming main campus have been determined to be the latest Wyoming victims of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel collected the turkey vultures and submitted them to the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory (WSVL). As part of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the WSVL is approved to test for HPAI. The vultures were found to have Eurasian HPAI, first detected in the U.S. in January.

While this viral disease may be highly lethal to birds, current assessment by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is that HPAI is not a human health concern at this time. However, there have been rare human infections with this strain of H5N1 HPAI overseas. People should exercise care and avoid contact with sick or dead wild birds and poultry.

Since being detected in the U.S. in January, the virus has spread to poultry in at least 29 states, affecting over 28 million domestic birds and untold numbers of wild birds. The WSVL first detected HPAI in Wyoming poultry in late March. Subsequently, HPAI has been diagnosed in various domestic and wild bird species across the state. Current information on HPAI in the U.S. may be found on the USDA-APHIS website.

People are advised to not pick up or handle any dead wild birds they may encounter and report clusters of dead wild birds to the Game and Fish Wildlife Health Laboratory at (307) 745-5865. If you have domestic poultry or pet birds that are dying or ill, contact your veterinarian who can evaluate the birds to determine if they may be infected with HPAI and arrange to submit appropriate samples for testing. You also may call the Wyoming Livestock Board at (307) 777-8270 or (307) 777-6440.

To help mitigate the spread of this virus, Gov. Mark Gordon instituted an emergency rule Monday that states “all poultry events, including exhibitions, swaps, tours, sales and competitions, are prohibited.”

For more information on HPAI, visit the USDA-APHIS website.

The Game and Fish Department maintains an up-to-date map of wild birds diagnosed with HPAI in Wyoming on the agency’s website.

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