A Note From NAGA: It’s long been thought that avian influenza isn’t a concern during the summer when the temperatures are higher. We’re now learning that’s not always the case. NAGA has been encouraging hunting preserves and gamebird producers to be prepared, even during the summer months, by ensuring biosecurity plans are in place and, more importantly, followed. The industry has been blessed to have many academic and veterinary experts advise on navigating these challenges.
Among these is the team at the University of Minnesota, who brings us a fresh warning on the status of avian influenza in the U.S., stated below.
By Dr. Carol Cardona, Pomeroy Chair of Avian Health for the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Abby Schuft, Associate Extension Professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
Not having any cases of HPAI reported over the summer has probably led you to think the virus is gone. We don’t think that’s the case. More likely, it’s just at a lower level (fewer wild birds infected) right now. The Minnesota raptor center reported its last positive case in early July 2022 (https://z.umn.edu/hpai), much later than the last reported poultry flock in Minnesota on May 31, 2022, and may come as a surprise to bird producers in Minnesota and surrounding states.
East and West coasts are also reporting wild birds testing positive, many of them raptors. Western states are seeing their first cases of HPAI this summer as the virus moves West (domestic poultry in Nevada and Utah and wild birds in California). Florida confirmed its first domestic case in early July. We often think of heat and drying as protective, and they are, but they can’t eliminate the virus from an infected bird. The heat and dryness only eliminate the virus in the environment. So, as groups of birds are infected, they can spread the virus to other birds they’re in contact with either directly or indirectly through common water sources, for example.
Midwestern poultry farmers are used to high-risk periods in the Fall and Spring, and we think the risk of infections will be higher. But the risk isn’t zero right now, even though it’s summer. We don’t have many sources of information on wild bird testing in the middle of summer, but we want to be proactive in letting you know the virus is most likely not gone, even if it’s not being detected in your geographic area.