Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) 2022 Confirmed in Waterfowl in Maryland, Virginia
Background: Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been found in both wild and domestic birds in the eastern and central United States, including near Washington, DC. This type of HPAI is considered a low risk to people, but it can be dangerous to birds. The HPAI virus is highly contagious between birds, and birds can be infected without appearing sick. The virus is carried in respiratory secretions, saliva, and fecal material. Wild ducks, geese, shorebirds, and other wild waterfowl are the most common carriers, but often do not show signs of illness. Infection and illness can be more severe in birds of prey, such as hawks and owls, and scavengers, such as crows and gulls. HPAI is particularly deadly in domestic birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys.
Sick birds may have symptoms such as:
- Sneezing, coughing, eye and nose discharge, swelling near the eyes
- Abnormal position of the head or neck, incoordination, walking or swimming in circles
- Swelling of the legs and feet, patchy red discoloration of the skin
- Sudden death, or increased deaths within a flock
Precautions with wild birds: Avoid handling sick or dead wild birds. If handling is necessary, wear gloves and a face mask. After handling the bird, wash hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with other wild or domestic birds. Unusual numbers of dead wild birds should be reported to local animal or wildlife health agencies. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center currently considers this to be:
Waterfowl or other water birds: 5 or more dead birds in the same area
- Raptors or scavengers (e.g., hawks, owls, crows, gulls): Any number of dead birds
- Other bird species, including songbirds: 500 or more dead birds in the same area
Report suspect cases of wild birds:
Washington, DC: Dead wild birds: email@example.com
Sick live wild birds: City Wildlife at (202) 882-1000 or District of Columbia Animal Care and Control (DCACC) at (202) 723-5730. To protect other birds at the center, until further notice City Wildlife cannot accept wild ducks, geese, gulls, or other water/shorebirds for treatment.
Maryland: Maryland Department of Natural Resources or USDA Wildlife Services (877-463-6497)
Virginia: Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Wildlife Conflict Helpline (855-571-9003)
Other states: Individuals should contact their state wildlife or local natural resources agency.
Precautions with domestic birds: Individuals with domestic birds are encouraged to review the information provided by the USDA APHIS Defend the Flock public education program. Resources, including HPAI prevention checklists and webinars, are available to help keep birds healthy and reduce the spread of disease. Suspect cases of HPAI in domestic birds should be reported to the state veterinarian or other local animal health official.
For more information on HPAI and updates on any additional detections of HPAI in the United States, visit the USDA APHIS website.