Last modified: Friday, July 17, 2015

Wildlife disease in Utah

Avian influenza and wild birds

Frequently asked questions

Question: Is there any risk of becoming infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza virus by feeding backyard birds or cleaning a bird feeder?

Answer: There is currently no evidence that suggests you could become infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus by feeding backyard birds. Generally, songbirds, or perching birds, (Passeriformes) are the primary type of birds at feeders. Most of the wild birds that are traditionally associated with avian influenza viruses are waterfowl and shorebirds. Songbirds are susceptible to other avian diseases. Therefore, it is recommended that people who feed birds routinely clean their feeders and bird baths, and anyone who comes in direct contact with bird droppings should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water (cleaning a bird feeder; Songbird Diseases Encountered at Bird Feeders).

Question: Can humans catch avian influenza from wild birds?

Answer: The HPAI strains detected in North America have not been implicated in human infections to date.

Question: Does the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources have a surveillance program for HPAI viruses?

Answer: The Division of Wildlife Resources is collaborating with federal agencies to implement a nationwide surveillance and monitoring program for HPAI virus in wild migratory bird populations. DWR will be testing hunter-harvested waterfowl during the coming year to check for the presence of the HPAI virus. We are also requesting that any large group of dead waterfowl found by the public be reported to local wildlife authorities immediately.