Outdoors

Avian cholera detected in wild waterfowl in Gibson County

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

Wildlife officials have confirmed the presence of avian cholera in geese in Gibson County in southwest Indiana.

Avian cholera, which poses minimal risk to humans and the commercial poultry industry, is common among North American waterfowl. This is the second time the disease has been documented in wild birds in Indiana. Diagnostic testing was conducted at the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center (usgs.gov).

Avian cholera is highly contagious among wild birds, especially waterfowl. It is caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida and is unrelated to avian influenza.

About 176 snow geese have been found dead in Gibson County since the beginning of January. Tens of thousands of waterfowl spend winter in that part of the state, so the incidence of disease appears to be relatively low.

The DNR, together with federal and private partners, has increased surveillance of waterfowl populations throughout the state and is monitoring the mortality event in Gibson County.

Avian cholera is not expected to have a significant effect on overall waterfowl populations but could result in dead geese being found in small areas. Avian cholera spreads through bird-to-bird contact, birds ingesting food and water containing the bacteria, and birds scavenging infected carcasses.

Infected birds die quickly but people might see diseased geese exhibiting lethargy and abnormal behavior.

To help prevent the spread of avian cholera, waterfowl hunters in southwest Indiana should consider cleaning and disinfecting their gear, including waders and decoys, using warm, soapy water.

Waterfowl hunters should also use gloves when cleaning birds they harvest, avoid eating, drinking, or smoking while cleaning harvested birds, and thoroughly wash their hands afterward.

Animals known or suspected to be ill should not be consumed. Anyone who sees sick or dead wildlife in Indiana is encouraged to report it to the DNR using the online reporting application at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife.

Featured photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

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