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New Avian Flu in Three Neighboring States is a Threat to Utah

File: Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is asking people with backyard poultry to monitor their flock particularly closely due to the threat of two strains of bird influenza virus. H-P-A-I, the acronym for highly pathogenic avian influenza has been reported in California, Washington and Oregon. 

The current virus is not a danger to humans but is usually fatal if a domestic bird gets it. Dr. Warren Hess is the acting state veterinarian with the agency.

“The concern is that it could affect poultry producers, people that have backyard birds, it could affect zoo animals, or aviaries and things like that.”

Hess says there are concerns because various waterfowl are carriers of the virus and the Great Salt Lake is in the Pacific Flyway.

“We are definitely in the area where this virus could come over into Utah,” Dr. Hess says.

He says the department is asking bird owners to contact the state right away if any of their birds become sick or die. Hess says commercial poultry already have testing programs in place but have been notified. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is also advising hunters to watch for anything unusual in the wild bird population.

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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