To the Editor:
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission continues to monitor bird mortalities suspected to be attributed to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza throughout Florida. This strain has been documented in the United States since 2021 and was detected for the first time in Florida in January 2022.
The FWC has documented the virus in 37 counties and a variety of bird species. The most common species affected in Florida include black vultures, lesser scaup and Muscovy ducks. Owls, bald eagles and other raptors, along with aquatic birds and waterfowl, have also been affected.
There is a low risk of HPAI transmission to humans, which can be minimized by following basic safety protocols. To prevent the spread of HPAI, the public should avoid handling sick or dead wildlife, prevent contact of domestic birds with wild birds and report wild bird mortalities to the FWC. Domestic poultry mortality should be reported to the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Additionally, precautions for hunters, the general public and wildlife rehabbers can be found at MyFWC.com/AvianInfluenza.
Please be advised that because HPAI is not treatable and is easily transmitted in wild birds, some wildlife rehabbers may not accept these animals. Information regarding carcass disposal is available through the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.
The FWC is working closely with the United States Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the University of Florida, the National Wildlife Health Center, the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, the Florida Department of Health and wildlife rehabilitators to study mortality events involving wild birds.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: MyFWC.com/AvianInfluenza
Florida Department of Health: FloridaHealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/influenza/index.html
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: fdacs.gov/Consumer-Resources/Animals/Animal-Diseases/Avian-Influenza
Carcass Disposal Guidelines: Guidance for Wild Bird Carcass Disposal
USDA Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Wild Birds: USDA APHIS | 2022-2023 Detections of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Wild Birds
USDA Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Mammals: USDA APHIS | 2022-2023 Detections of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Mammals
USDA Defend the Flock Program: USDA APHIS | Defend the Flock Program