State veterinarian says the bird flu isn’t going away

State veterinarian says the bird flu isn’t going away
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 4:31 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - State Veterinarian Dr. Bob Gerlach said poultry owners in Alaska still need to take precautions to protect their flocks from avian flu. So far in 2022, the virus has been detected in six backyard flocks as well as over 570 wild birds statewide.

According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Health, the bird flu poses little risk to humans but is very contagious among birds, including domestic poultry. Gerlach said the virus hasn’t gone away as birds migrate out of state — in fact it’s being found more often in birds who stay in Alaska.

“We’re seeing it still in our wild bird resident populations, like our eagles, like our ravens, like some of the gulls and shorebirds,” he said. “So it’s staying around here and it’s not going away like it had in the past.”

Gerlach said suspected cases of bird flu in Alaska are shipped Outside to be tested. Positive results are analyzed to look at the composition of the virus and to note whether it is mutating.

Gerlach said the only way to control the virus is to keep wild birds away from domestic flocks. The State Veterinarian website lists several practices that can stop the spread as well as signs to look for in a sick bird.

People can report and illness or a death in a backyard flock by calling their local veterinarian or the State Vet at 907-375-8215.