Monday, November 3, 2008

Wildlife officials to test hunter-harvested ducks

--- On Mon, 11/3/08, <> wrote:
For immediate release: November 3, 2008

Wildlife officials to test hunter-harvested ducks for avian influenza

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and United States
Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services biologists will collect
samples from hunter-harvested ducks to test for highly pathogenic avian
influenza – H5N1. Sampling will occur at various times during the
migratory game bird hunting season at several duck-hunting hot spots
throughout Florida.

Hunters will not need to surrender their ducks, and participation is
voluntary.  Biologists will obtain the samples by swabbing the ducks'
respiratory and digestive tracts. Scientists at a diagnostic lab will test
the samples for avian influenza and other diseases.

The sampling is part of a continuing international surveillance effort to
determine if migratory birds carry the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of
avian influenza in North America. Last year, more than 65,000 samples were
collected nationwide, including more than 1,200 samples from Florida. None
of the samples tested positive for the virus, including the 481 collected
at check stations in Florida's wildlife management areas.

While it is extremely unlikely that hunters could contract avian influenza
from wild birds in Florida, officials recommend taking common-sense
precautions to reduce the risk of contracting any disease from wildlife.
For instance, do not harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick
or found dead; wear rubber gloves while cleaning game; clean game outdoors
and stay upwind of game while cleaning; and do not eat, drink or smoke
while cleaning game.

It's also important to wash hands with soap and water immediately after
handling game or cleaning bird feeders. Wash tools and work surfaces used
to clean game birds with soap and water, then disinfect with a 10-percent
bleach solution.

In addition, hunters should separate raw meat, and anything it touches,
from cooked or ready-to-eat foods to avoid contamination.

The FWC recommends cooking game birds thoroughly. Meat should reach an
internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill disease organisms
and parasites.

For more information about avian influenza and the FWC's monitoring
program, including how to report observations of dead birds, visit

No comments: