Health Department Closely Monitoring Detection of Influenza Virus in Wild Birds

Currently Very Low Risk to Public  

The Adams County Health Department has been informed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) of two incidents involving wild birds resulted in a positive test for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Adams County, which is a type of influenza virus that infects birds specifically.  

On Dec. 27, 2022, a deceased red-tailed hawk collected at Barr Lake State Park was found to have HPAI. In addition, CDPHE was notified by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) that approximately 100 dead Canadian geese were discovered in an oil and gas pond in Southwest Adams County. These birds were found frozen in the pond, and it is suspected they may also be positive for HPAI. However, due to their frozen state, it is not possible to definitively confirm whether they had HPAI.  

The strain of HPAI identified in these cases is highly contagious among birds and can spread rapidly to both wild and domestic flocks. HPAI infection in birds causes severe disease and high death rates particularly among flocks. The identification of HPAI in Adams County is not unexpected, as the current strain of H5N1 HPAI is actively circulating the U.S. and has been found in all 50 states. The Colorado Department of Agriculture and CPW are the state agencies monitoring HPAI infections in birds and conducting testing. For current case counts among wild birds, domestic poultry, and humans, you can view the CDC dashboard here.   

Based on these incidents, it is assumed there is an increase in HPAI in the Adams County area. Rarely, some strains of HPAI can cause infection and illness in humans. The current H5N1 strain of HPAI poses a very low risk to the public at this time.  

“The Adams County Health Department is closely monitoring the situation involving the detection of HPAI in wild birds in our county. To protect you and your family’s health, residents in our communities should avoid any contact with sick and dying birds. Backyard flock owners should monitor their birds for sudden illness or death and know to contact the Colorado Department of Agriculture to report the illness and request testing,” said Medical Officer Dr. Bernadette Albanese.   

Public health and wildlife monitoring are vital to ending the outbreak. Individual bird owners, including those in rural areas, can take action to help stop the spread of this virus We encourage bird owners to work to ensure domestic birds do not come into contact with wild birds, and keep poultry confined inside during this high-risk period of migratory bird activity. We also encourage bird owners to limit traffic on and off farms and use personal protective equipment and disinfection when caring for birds to avoid introducing HPAI.  

For the general public: 

If you find more than three dead wild birds within two weeks or see live birds showing unusual behavior, please report to your local CPW office 

For backyard block owners or commercial bird facilities: 

Multiple sick domestic birds or multiple unusual heads among domestic birds should be reported to the Colorado State Veterinarian’s Office at 303.869.9130 or the USDA-Veterinary Services Colorado Office at 303.231.5385.  

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