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Some waterfowl and sandhill crane hunters may find a new type of monitoring at several check stations this year, including at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Havasu National Wildlife Refuge and Willcox Playa Wildlife Area. Arizona Game and Fish Department and federal officials will be taking samples to test for Avian Influenza, also known as bird flu.
The media has recently focused on one particular strain of bird flu called the Asian strain of highly pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza. This strain has not been detected in the United States or anywhere else in the entire Western Hemisphere. Human cases of this type of Avian Influenza have occurred in countries where people have daily close contact with domestic poultry and poultry excrement. However, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in coordination with other state and federal agencies, is monitoring the status of the virus in the world.
Hunters and those who handle birds and other wildlife should continue to follow reasonable safety recommendations for this virus, as well as other diseases. These include:
- Don’t harvest or handle birds that are obviously sick, abnormally tame or found dead.
- Wear rubber gloves when cleaning game or bird feeders.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke when cleaning game or bird feeders.
- Wash hands carefully with soap and water or alcohol wipes immediately after handling game. Then disinfect tools and work surfaces with a 10% chlorine bleach solution.
- Cook birds thoroughly.
The most current information about this type of Avian Influenza is available at the federal government’s Web site at pandemicflu.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site at cdc.gov/flu/avian.