MDIFW News: HPAI Detected In Wild Waterfowl In Winthrop

Six Hooded Merganser Ducks Found Dead at the Outlet of Maranacook Lake Test Positive for HPAI

AUGUSTA, ME — The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was notified today that six hooded merganser ducks that were found dead at the outlet of Maranacook Lake tested positive for HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza). The National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Iowa confirmed the strain to be H5N1 clade, the currently circulating strain of HPAI in Maine.

Avian Influenza (AI) is a type A influenza respiratory virus naturally found in certain waterfowl, gulls, and shorebird species. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), which includes strains such as H5N1 and H5, is a highly contagious strain of avian influenza that can spread and mutate between wild and domestic flocks of birds, and can be fatal to birds. Avian influenza rarely infects humans. There has been one confirmed human case in the United States where a commercial poultry worker tested positive for this strain of H5N1 clade, and experienced mild flu-like symptoms and recovered.

This current strain of H5N1 has already been confirmed in wild birds in Hancock, Knox, Lincoln, Penobscot, Sagadahoc, Waldo, Washington and York counties.

In order to limit the spread of HPAI, please take these precautions:

Try not to walk in fields or other areas where you would get bird waste on your clothing or boots. If there is a chance you walked in bird waste, thoroughly clean and sanitize your gear before going to other areas. Anyone feeding birds should do so with care. While many birdfeeder species may not be prime carriers, supplemental feed that could attract wild ducks, geese and turkeys could carry HPAI, which can be particularly concerning for homeowners that have domestic poultry. Contain and separate domestic birds from wild birds to prevent possible spread. For example, if you have a pond that your domestic poultry uses, try to prevent wild birds from using the same area with netting or fencing. For anyone with pets (dogs/cats) that may come into contact with possibly infected bird species, contact your veterinarian if your pet becomes symptomatic. Precautions should be taken to limit exposure to birds with abnormal behavior.

You should Contact a MDIFW Regional Biologist at 207-287-8000 if: You see birds that are showing signs of illness or die soon after you saw them You find dead birds near domestic poultry You find dead waterfowl, birds of prey, shorebirds, gulls, or other seabirds

MDIFW recommends avoiding contact with sick and dead wild birds. However, if a dead bird is found on one’s property, it can be removed at the property owners discretion after contacting a regional wildlife biologist. If removing a dead bird, we recommend the following precautions: Wear a disposable mask Wear disposable gloves Double-bag the bird; place the bird within the inner bag and knot or tape the bag closed Remove gloves and mask; place inside the outer bag and knot or tape the outer bag closed Place the double-bagged bird in the trash Wash hands with soap and water (or use sanitizer if unable to wash hands).

For More information about HPAI, please visit the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife web page on avian influenza.

For more information concerning backyard flocks of poultry and waterfowl, please visit the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Avian Influenza site.

The Center For Disease Control has a detailed history of HPAI outbreaks.

USDAs wild bird case reports has the most up to date data, and it includes all of Maine’s previous detections.

— From a media release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, February 9, 2023. Submitted by Colt Knight, Ph.D., University of Maine Associate Extension Professor and State Livestock Specialist.