BOZEMAN, Mont. — The Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks discussed ways people can stop the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.
It arrived in Montana on April 8th, and since then it's already caused a deadly impact.
On April 19th, a Glacier County flock tested positive for the virus. It was the fourth Montana flock to be infected.
Domestic poultry had already been killed in both Cascade and Judith Basin counties to stop the spread.
“Anything that poultry owners can do to try to reduce the contact, or the exposure of their birds to those wild species that might have ai would reduce their risk of suffering significant mortality to their flocks,” Montana Department of Livestock veterinarian Marty Zaluski said.
Generally Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza viruses generally cause no clinical illness, but Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is the one spreading. It's extremely infectious and deadly.
Zaluski says ways to stop the spread of disease is to keep pens clean, only wear dedicated clothing for chicken coops, and even completely isolate animals inside for the next several weeks.
“It's the agriculture version of washing your hands, you know, and sneezing into your elbow. Those types of things,” Zaluski said.
FWP urges people to report and never handle dead wild birds, or take down bird feeders. Stopping the spread can help save a flock
“The death loss is really significant, and then if we confirm AI, you know we do need to depopulate that flock. So, that's also sad for those owners,” Zaluski said.
Flocks are killed in order to not compromise poultry exports and not spread the infection to neighboring farms.
There are no reports of human infections detected in the United States, but in the past it’s infected people in other countries and caused serious illness and death
“CDC does not believe that this is a public health concern at this point, and it doesn't impact food safety,” Zaluski said.
This is the first time since 2015 that Montana detected a positive case of the Avian Flu, and epidemiologists say it could be a while before the it stops spreading.