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Hunter Information on BirdFlu

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  • Hunter Information on BirdFlu

    Field Notes
    December 3, 2006


    There is no known case of the highly pathogenic Asian H5N1 strain of bird flu in the Americas now.

    But even apparently healthy wild birds and other wild game can be infected with other wildlife diseases that could pose a threat to hunters and others out enjoying the outdoors.

    You can protect yourself from these diseases by following the recommendations listed below from the National Wildlife Health Center.

    Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (or with alcohol-based hand products if the hands are not visibly soiled).

    This is a very effective method for killing influenza viruses, including the highly pathogenic Asian H5N1 strain of bird flu.

    These viruses are also killed with many common disinfectants such as detergents, 10 percent household bleach, alcohol or other commercial disinfectants.

    Viruses are more difficult to kill in organic material such as feces or soil.

    The general public should, as a rule, observe wildlife -- including wild birds -- from a distance.

    This protects you from possible exposure to pathogens and minimizes disturbance to the animal.

    Avoid touching wildlife. If there is contact with wildlife do not rub your eyes, eat, drink, or smoke without first washing your hands with soap and water as described above.

    Do not pick up diseased or dead wildlife. Contact your state or federal natural resource agency if a sick or dead animal is found.

    Hunters, especially, should follow these routine precautions when handling game:

    # Do not handle or eat sick game.

    # Wear rubber or disposable latex gloves while handling and cleaning game, wash hands as described above, and thoroughly clean knives, equipment and surfaces that come in contact with game.

    # Do not eat, drink, or smoke while handling animals.

    # All game should be thoroughly cooked (well done or 160 degrees F).

    Following these common sense rules of good hygiene greatly reduces your chances of contacting any form of wildlife disease.

    And it's all pretty much what your mother already taught you when you were a kid.


    For more outdoors news, visit The Memphis Edge.