Bird flu kills ducks, eagles and geese along the Mississippi River | Local News

JAYNE ABRAHAM

Bird flu is rampant along the Mississippi River, killing various species of migratory birds.

The highly contagious flu was detected in South Carolina in January. In this region, ducks, geese and swans have been found dead near Bellevue, Iowa, on the upper Mississippi during spring migration. Bald eagles and falcons have also been found dead there. There is also significant mortality of American white pelicans and double-crested cormorants, according to a US Fish & Wildlife Service.

The virus is transmitted through bird droppings and targets a bird’s digestive system.

Although rare, humans can contract bird flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported its first case in April. In humans and other animals, the virus infects the respiratory system.

Humans can contract the virus by coming into close contact with infected birds or environments contaminated with the virus.

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Many birds are asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

Signs of bird flu infection are irregular behavior in birds, such as swimming in circles or having an abnormal head position. Keeping humans and pets away from healthy, sick, and dead wild birds can minimize the risk of exposure to the virus.

Curt Kemmerer, a wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, doesn’t consider bird flu something humans should fear, but said people should take basic precautions around wild animals.

“As human beings, we all have to be careful about disease. So many diseases can jump from wild animals to humans,” he said. “It’s just a healthy dose of normal precaution that you have to keep in mind that you don’t just want to handle wild animals with your bare hands and stuff like that.”

With bird flu affecting so many birds across many species, the preservation of local ecosystems becomes a concern. However, Kemmerer said ecosystems have some degree of built-in resilience. can’t cure everything or control everything there,” he said.

The public can help ensure their own safety and the preservation of the ecosystems around them by paying attention to health experts and reporting any mortality events to a wildlife officer so that they are kept “up to date with the situation is happening in our backyards and beyond,” he said.

“I think it’s important…we’re counting on the public to help play their part in the cycle,” Kemmerer said.

Photos: Bald Eagle Days at the QCCA Expo Center

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