Avian influenza found in wild birds in Wisconsin, DNR says

MADISON, Wis. — A highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza has been found in wild birds in Wisconsin, the state’s Department of Natural Resources said Thursday.

In a news release, the agency said EA H5 avian influenza has been confirmed in the state after officials collected samples from half a dozen birds, including a Cooper’s hawk and a bald eagle in Dane County, a lesser scaup from Columbia County and a red-tailed hawk from Grant County.

The DNR said the bird flu strain, known as EA H5N1, has caused disease in both wild and domestic birds in numerous states since first being detected in North America in December. The agency is increasing monitoring efforts for the strain and is asking people to report cases of waterfowl, waterbirds, raptors and scavengers holding their heads unusually or showing tremors or circling movements.

The virus doesn’t pose a risk to food safety, the DNR added, saying cooking poultry to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees kills the virus.

RELATED: DATCP confirms highly pathogenic bird flu in Jefferson County

Thursday’s news comes a little more than two weeks after the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced a case of bird flu at a commercial poultry facility in Jefferson County. Depopulation efforts at that facility wrapped up on Wednesday.

“Further testing is required for absolute confirmation of the full genome, but the EA H5 is specific to the strain that has been identified at the Jefferson County poultry farm,” DNR communications director Sarah Hoye said in an email.

There’s no reason to believe the virus spread from the Jefferson County facility to the wild birds in question, she added.

“Waterfowl are a natural host for Avian Influenza viruses and this strain has been identified in every North American Flyway this year,” she wrote. “Flyways are the migratory routes that many species of bird take between the areas they overwinter and summer. The summering and wintering grounds may overlap with those for species from other parts of the globe.”

To report concerning sightings, call the DNR’s Wildlife Hotline at 608-267-0866 or email DNRWildlifeSwitchboard@wi.gov.