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NC wildlife, public health officials caution hunters to guard against avian influenza

(Photo: Marsh Gardiner on Flickr via Creative Commons)
Officials from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and public health agencies are reminding waterfowl hunters to take precautions to guard against bird flu when handling wild birds during hunting season.

Officials from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and public health agencies are reminding waterfowl hunters to be careful when handling wild birds during hunting season.

There haven’t been any new highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) infections in wild birds in North Carolina since March, officials say birds that migrated to other states and Canada during the spring and summer, where HPAI was present, are returning to the state for the winter.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission says some asymptomatic, hunter-harvested waterfowl tested positive for HPAI in March, and some deaths in wild birds were identified.

The risk of human infection is low, but wildlife officials say rare instances have occurred in people who handled diseased birds.

Officials with the NC Department of Health and Human Services say there are several things people can do to prevent disease spread while hunting.

They include not harvesting or handling wild birds that are obviously sick; hand washing with soap and water after handling game or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available; dressing game birds in the field whenever possible; and wearing disposable gloves.

DHHS officials also suggest that hunters seek medical care if they experience flu-like symptoms after having close contact with a potentially infected bird, and to get a seasonal flu vaccine every year.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. She has been involved in the media industry in eastern North Carolina for more than three years. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to ENC to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of toddler and baby cuddling, reading, designing costumes for children’s theater and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to westona@cravencc.edu.