Below is a press release from the Cascade County Health Department.

Great Falls, MT 
— In early April, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), commonly known as bird flu, was detected in a commercial poultry flock in Cascade County. The exposed animals were culled and safely disposed of. HPAI has since been confirmed in several additional birds. The affected birds were wild or feral geese, a duck, and a great horned owl, all located in or near to Great Falls.

Human HPAI infections have generally occurred after close and prolonged contact with infected birds or the excretions/secretions of infected birds. However, human infection is rare and no human infections in Montana have been detected at this time. Montanans should nevertheless avoid handling wild birds and take precautions when handling game birds.

Poultry producers should monitor their flocks for sudden onset of illness or sudden death. Common symptoms include swollen eyes, discolored comb or legs, significant drop in egg production, and significant reduction of water or feed consumption.

The following precautionary measures should be implemented:

  • Prevent contact between wild or migratory birds and domestic poultry, including access by wild birds to feed and water sources.
  • House birds indoors to the extent possible to limit exposure to wild or migratory birds, and limit visitor access to areas where birds are housed.
  • Use dedicated clothing and protective footwear when caring for domestic poultry.
  • Immediately isolate sick domestic animals and contact your veterinarian or the Montana Department of Livestock at 406-444-2976.
  • Do not touch or handle wild birds or carcasses. Investigation of mortality events in wild birds offers wildlife professionals the best opportunity to detect HPAI, and sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks at 406-577-7880.
  • If you must come into contact with birds, maintain good handwashing and other sanitization practices and utilize appropriate personal protective equipment.

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