Avian Flu declared disaster emergency in Colorado
Gov. Jared Polis has issued an Executive Order declaring a state of disaster emergency due to the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza rising among birds in Colorado. The emergency declaration will allow state agencies to coordinate together to mitigate the spread of the disease.
Also known as H5N1 or the avian flu, the disease affects both wild and domestic birds. It has a mortality rate of over 90%.
“Cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza are on the rise again across the country as migratory birds start their seasonal movement south. Right now, it’s critical that Colorado’s backyard and commercial poultry flock owners keep up the biosecurity measures they have been implementing since the beginning of the outbreak this spring,” said Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Maggie Baldwin.
“(Avian flu) is a disease with high mortality that can wipe out entire domestic poultry flocks in less than 72 hours. The most important thing bird owners can do right now is limit interaction between their flocks and wild birds,” she added.
Cases of avian flu have affected commercial farms, domestic flocks and wild birds across the U.S. In Colorado, avian flu has struck 17 counties, including Grand County.
This May, Colorado Parks and Wildlife removed nine dead wild birds who had contracted avian flu locally.
“A word of advice, do not approach if you see dead birds. Please contact professionals to investigate the situation,” said Grand County Director of Public Health Abbie Baker after the incident.
In Colorado, there has been one case of an individual contracting avian flu from an infected bird. The case occurred in Delta County this April, when an individual came in direct contact with diseased poultry by doing culling at a commercial farm. The individual did not experience any severe symptoms, and there was no other transmission following this.
For a person to catch the avian flu, they must be in direct contact with a diseased bird. The virus can enter someone’s system through their eyes, nose, or mouth, so proper protection is necessary.
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife will use (personal protective equipment) to remove deceased birds, including masks, eye googles, and gloves in order to retrieve these birds,” said Baker.
So far, there has been no sign of a person contracting the disease in Grand County. Overall, the risk of humans catching avian flu is very low.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.
Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.
If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.