The Avian Influenza has been found in at least two wild geese in the state. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) said the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was detected in a snow goose at Canyon Ferry and in a Canada goose near Belgrade last week. The bird flu virus has also been found in domestic poultry in Judith Basin and Cascade Counties, officials said in a news release.

There are two main types of Avian Flu. The naturally occurring Avian Influenza (AI) usually only causes minor symptoms. But Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is very infectious and is fatal to domestic poultry and some wild birds.

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HPAI was found in eastern Canada last December. Then was detected in the eastern U.S. in January. Now, it has spread to all four main bird migration flyways. The Central and Pacific flyways reach Montana. It hasn't been seen here since 2015, according to FWP.

Can humans get Bird Flu?

The Centers for Disease Control said transmission risk to humans is low, but Montanans should take precautions when handling game birds or if they find a sick or dead bird. It's recommended that gloves are used whenever you handle a dead bird or other animals.

There are several recommendations for those who are bird hunters or even if you maintain a bird feeder. Here are a few:

  • Wear disposable latex or rubber gloves while cleaning game or cleaning bird feeders.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke while cleaning game.
  • If you have handled wild game, avoid contact with domestic flocks.
  • Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol wipes and wash any tools and work surfaces with soap and water.
  • Disinfect those surfaces with 10 percent solution of chlorine bleach.
  • Separate raw meat, and anything it touches, from cooked or ready-to-eat food.
  • Cook that game meat thoroughly - to at least 165 degrees F.

Report any unusual sickness or death of wild birds to 406 577-7880. More information is available at the Montana FWP website.

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