Health warning: Cause of ‘mass mortality’ in wild birds could spread to humans and pets, officials say

If you’re heading to coastal South Carolina this Memorial Day weekend, state health officials have a warning for you: Don’t mess with sick or dead birds. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said in a statement Friday that Charleston County had experienced “massive wild vulture mortality.” “Some of these dead vultures tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, caused by influenza virus subtypes including H5N1,” the statement said. Environmental control officials are urging community members to ensure that they, their pets and domestic animals avoid contact with dead or sick vultures, other birds and wildlife and avoid areas where dead birds have been found. The CDC released this information in March about the virus. “While the risk of transmission of HPAI to people or pets and tame animals is considered low, the risk is also not well known and best avoided by not having contact with dead birds,” officials said. “The virus responsible for HPAI can be spread through feathers and feces, or contaminated dirt from infected birds.” Handling dead birds without recommended protective measures increases the risk of transmission. “The SCDNR will continue to monitor and monitor and encourage members of the public to report unusual bird mortality events.” Anyone who comes into contact with a dead vulture or other dead bird in the area should seek medical attention if they become ill with symptoms of fever, cough, fatigue and body aches, officials said. They also urged people to report potential exposure to healthcare providers and local health departments. DHEC recommends monitoring for symptoms for 10 days after the last exposure to a bird with HPAI. public health and DNR officials to monitor the situation.

If you’re heading to coastal South Carolina this Memorial Day weekend, state health officials have a warning for you: Don’t mess with sick or dead birds.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said in a statement Friday that Charleston County had experienced a “mass death of wild vultures.”

“Some of these dead vultures tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, caused by influenza virus subtypes including H5N1,” the statement said.

Officials from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control are urging community members to ensure that they, their pets and their domestic animals avoid contact with dead vultures or sick, other birds and wild animals and avoid areas where dead birds have been found.

The CDC released this information in March about the virus.

“While the risk of transmission of HPAI to people or pets and tame animals is considered low, the risk is also not well known and best avoided by not having contact with dead birds,” officials said.

“The virus that causes HPAI can be spread through feathers and feces, or contaminated dirt from infected birds.

“Handling dead birds without recommended protective measures increases the risk of transmission.

“The SCDNR will continue monitoring and surveillance and encourage members of the public to report unusual bird mortality events.”

Anyone who comes into contact with a dead vulture or other dead bird in the area should seek medical attention if they become ill with symptoms of fever, cough, fatigue and body aches, officials said.

They also urged people to report potential exposure to healthcare providers and Local Health Services.

DHEC recommends monitoring for symptoms for 10 days after the last exposure to a bird with HPAI.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Clemson Livestock Poultry Health officials are also aware of the bird mortality and outbreak in Charleston County and continue to work with state health officials and of the DNR to monitor the situation.

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