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Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) Confirmed In Webster County


Marshfield, Mo. – The Webster County Health Unit has been informed by our state partners that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected in several locations across Webster County. It has been found in both domestic commercial flocks and in migratory wild birds.

The Health Unit’s epidemiology team is working closely with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and other state and federal agencies to monitor the spread of the virus.

Avian influenza spreads as birds along the North American flyways intermingle with infected birds from Europe and Asia. The viruses are transmitted from bird to bird through fecal droppings, saliva, and nasal discharges. There is a risk for spillover from wild birds into domestic poultry and then back again from poultry to wild birds, resulting in further spread.

“Fortunately, avian influenza does not present an immediate public health concern, although on rare occasions it has infected humans and other animals,” said Ladi Moore, Nurse Epidemiologist for the Webster County Health Unit. “We recommend you avoid handling sick or dead birds, and to report sick or dead wild birds, especially waterfowl to the Missouri Department of Conservation.”

Wildlife Health staff are interested in reports of single waterfowl, raptor, or avian scavengers with neurological symptoms – tremors, head tilting, lethargy, loss of coordination, inability to fly or walk properly, or trouble standing upright. They are also interested in waterfowl or other waterbird deaths involving more than five birds where the cause of death is unknown.

Hunters are advised to take common sense precautions when handling harvested birds in the field or at home. They should be aware that it is possible to transport avian influenza viruses on boats, waders, or other equipment, especially if it isn’t dry before moving it from one site to another. Allowing hunting equipment to dry between outings will reduce this chance.

Although avian influenza viruses usually do not make people sick, there have been some rare cases of human infection with these viruses. Illness in humans caused by avian influenza infections have ranged in severity from no symptoms or mild illness to severe disease that resulted in death.

Avian influenza infection can result in a variety of symptoms in people. The severity of symptoms or illness can vary from no symptoms at all to severe illness. You should monitor for the following symptoms for 10 days after your last known exposure to avian influenza:

 Fever (may not always be present)       

 Chills or feeling feverish

 Cough

 Sore throat

 Runny or stuffy nose

 Sneezing

 Muscle or body aches

 Headache

 Fatigue

 Nausea or vomiting

 Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

 Diarrhea

 Eye redness or irritation (conjunctivitis)

Contact your veterinarian and the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health division at (573) 751-3377 if you see sickness in domestic birds. For domestic poultry situational updates and biosecurity information, visit the Missouri Department of Agriculture website, https://agriculture.mo.gov/avian-influenza.php.

Inquiries about avian influenza observed in wild birds can be sent to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Wildlife Health Division at wildlifehealth@mdc.mo.gov or by calling 573-815-7900. Situation updates of ongoing avian influenza in wild birds are available at https://mdc.mo.gov/wildlife/wildlife-diseases/highly-pathogenic-avian-influenza-hpai.

About the Webster County Health Unit:

Established in 1957 by a vote of the people of Webster County, the Webster County Health Unit continues its commitment to preserve, protect, and promote public health in the communities that it serves. More information on the services provided by the Unit can be found at www.webstercohealth.com.


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