Avian flu threatens flocks throughout Nevada

By: - October 31, 2022 2:32 pm

Geese at Sunset Park have shown symptoms of the disease. (Clark County photo)

Clark County officials have detected a highly contagious strain of avian flu in two dead geese at Sunset Park, and say birds at other watering holes throughout the valley are showing symptoms of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), which is primarily found in waterfowl, but is a threat to backyard flocks of poultry and other birds. 

“Both domestic and wild geese at our Sunset Park have shown symptoms of the disease. Two Canadian geese found dead both tested positive,” says a Facebook post from Clark County.

The county says the Nevada Department of Wildlife has confirmed HPAI is circulating in Southern Nevada, and likely throughout the rest of the state.  It’s been confirmed in Spring Creek and Wildhorse, according to the Elko Daily News. 

As of Monday, the Centers for Disease Control reports HPAI has been detected in almost 48 million wild aquatic birds, commercial poultry and backyard or hobbyist flocks this year. It’s responsible for 580 outbreaks in 43 states, including one in a backyard flock of 40 non-poultry birds in Carson City, the first confirmed case in Nevada.

The virus, which is primarily hosted in waterfowl and shorebirds, is often asymptomatic in those flocks, which have developed immunity, but it has a high mortality rate in poultry.  

Birds become infected through direct or indirect contact with feces of wild birds. Symptoms include depression, coughing, sneezing and sudden death.

Reuters reported earlier this month that 47 million birds have died or been killed this year because of avian flu, and the outbreak is expected to contribute to record prices for turkeys, a holiday staple. 

The Nevada Department of Agriculture has tips on protecting domestic birds, including backyard poultry. 

Dogs can be infected if they eat an infected bird. Hunters are advised to keep dogs from unharvested waterfowl.  

Experts say the current strain has a low risk for human infection, but it can be spread by humans to animals in the home.   

Clark County Parks and Recreation maintenance staff are taking measures to minimize the spread of the virus via patrolling the lake for dead birds and washing pathways used by the public. Visitors are asked not to feed wild birds at Sunset Park’s lake.

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.