Iowa DNR veterinarian says bird flu “is not a major human concern at this time”

Baby chicks at a farm
Baby chicks at a farm(KTIV)
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 9:38 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - The federal government says a Colorado state prison inmate is the first person to have tested positive for bird flu in the latest outbreak in the United States. The CDC says the man reported feeling fatigued for a few days, but has recovered.

Experts consider the threat to the general public to be very low because spread of the virus to people requires close contact with an infected bird.

Monday, KTIV spoke with an Iowa Department of Natural Resources Veterinarian about bird flu, and its potential impact on humans. Dr. Rachel Ruden says the recent case in Colorado is only the second case of bird flu in humans over the last year. And, both of them experienced only mild symptoms. “It really seems like this disease is not a major human concern at this time,” said Ruden. “And even so, the symptoms are very mild in both of those cases.”

Dr. Ruden says that bird flu cases among birds have remained steady since mid-March, with no noticeable increase. The highest rates have come with raptors, including eagles, owls and hawks, who eat smaller bird species to survive. Dr. Ruden offered tips for those hoping to slow the spread. “Best practice is to not handle the bird or animal, you know, this could really be broadened out to anything, directly,” said Ruden. “You want to either wear gloves or turn like a bag inside out to grab the animal, bag it up. With birds, specifically, we’re recommending double bagging. So put it in one garbage bag or one ziplock bag and then put that in another garbage bag, for instance. And then just disposing of it in your normal trash.”

Ruden says if you see a group, or “cluster,” of dead birds together, you should notify your local Department of Natural Resources.

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