Last week, the USDA confirmed the first reported case of a highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds in Colorado. Wildlife officials located several geese suffering from the contagious virus in Sedgwick County.

According to the Northern Colorado's Rocky Mountain Raptor Program, the outbreak of HPAI began in eastern Canada in December and then spread through eastern and midwestern states. Now, it has unfortunately made its way to Colorado.

Snow and Ross's Geese were collected by CPW officials on March 17, 2022, after they came across several sick and dead birds at Jumbo Reservoir. The birds were then necropsied at the CPW Wildlife Health Laboratory and samples were submitted to the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The samples tested positive and these results were confirmed by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory on March 24, 2022.

HPAI can cause severe illness and death in many bird species but the virus is most common in waterfowl, including ducks, geese, and swans, According to the Denver Zoo, the virus is highly contagious and can spread to other species through their mucous, saliva, and feces. Because of this, after learning HPAI had arrived in Colorado, the zoo took precautionary measures with their avian residents, including moving them to indoor enclosures.

The virus can also negatively impact commercial or backyard poultry. As of now, no detections of HPAI have been reported in domestic flocks in Colorado.

The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association explains that HPAI is a reportable disease. It is important for veterinarians and producers to report any suspicious disease events in poultry flocks to the State Veterinarian’s Office at 303-869-9130. CVMA further notes that it's extremely urgent for poultry owners to increase biosecurity measures and constantly be monitoring to protect their birds from HPAI.

Certain strains of avian influenza can be transmitted to humans.

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