For immediate release: april 22, 2105
Media Contact: Kevin Baskins, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515-725-8288.
DNR offers guidance for turkey hunters in areas near avian flu
The highly-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus has been confirmed in a domestic turkey facility in Buena Vista County and a domestic chicken facility in Osceola County.
Hunters can help prevent the spread of the virus by not going near any commercial poultry facilities.
“Turkey hunters can take steps to minimize the risk of spreading this virus, and they can be excellent scouts in helping identify wild birds like raptors that are known to be susceptible or wild turkeys that could have been affected,” said Dr. Dale Garner, chief of Wildlife for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
While waterfowl are the natural reservoirs for the virus, wild turkeys are presumed to be susceptible. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the risk to the public is very low and there is no food safety concern.
However, it is advisable to avoid contact with sick birds.
The USDA makes the following recommendations for turkey hunters to protect themselves or their pet birds from the virus.
In the field
- Do not harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick or found dead.
- Dress your game birds in the field whenever possible.
- Use dedicated tools for cleaning game, whether in the field or at home. Do not use those tools around your poultry or pet birds.
- Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning game.
- Double bag the internal organs and feathers. Tie the inner bag, and be sure to take off your rubber gloves and leave them in the outer bag before tying it closed. Place the bag in a trashcan that poultry and pet birds cannot access. This trashcan should also be secured against access by children, pets, or other animals.
- Wash hands with soap and water immediately after handling game. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol wipes.
- Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water. Then, disinfect them. Do not eat, drink, or smoke while cleaning game.
- If you clean a bird at home, keep a separate pair of shoes to wear only in your game cleaning area. If this is not possible, wear rubber footwear and clean/disinfect your shoes before entering or leaving the area.
- Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water. Then disinfect them.
- Avoid cross-contamination. Keep uncooked game in a separate container away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
- You should always cook game meat thoroughly; poultry should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill disease organisms and parasites.
The DNR also advises hunters that if they see any birds that have died in the field or appear sick (ruffled feathers, swollen wattles, discoloration of the feet and impaired balance) to notify staff as soon as possible and don’t touch or attempt to move the birds.
Waterfowl are the natural reservoirs for the virus and raptors are known to be susceptible.
If you see a dead or sick wild turkey or raptor, mark the location by GPS if possible and contact local wildlife biologist or conservation officer at http://www.iowadnr.gov/ContactIowaDNR.aspx and clicking on the DNR staff and office information by county pdf.
Additional information about avian influenza is online at http://www.iowadnr.gov/Education/IowasWildlife/AvianInfluenza.aspx