No avian flu detected in La Crosse County, but health department is testing birds and issues advisory

USDA petitioned to include poultry in humane slaughter law
The avian flu outbreak that began in January has resulted in the death or slaughter of more than 24 million poultry — mostly turkeys — in the United States. (Associated Press)

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Even though no birds have tested positive for the avian influenza in La Crosse County, it has been detected elsewhere in Wisconsin, and the county health department issued an advisory so people know what to do if they run across a sick bird.

“We know that avian influenza is in the area as birds are migrating. Several birds have been sent in for testing but results are not yet available,” according to the health department.

“This is primarily a bird health issue and is easily passed from bird to bird,” said Carol Drury, environmental health manager at the health department. “It’s important for La Crosse County and Western Wisconsin residents to be aware birds have tested positive.

“We also want residents to know what to do if they encounter an ill or dead bird,” Drury said.

A virus found in bird droppings and other bird fluids causes the avian flu.

“It can infect domesticated birds such as chickens, ducks and turkeys,” Drury said. “If you come upon a bird that has died or is ill, do not touch the bird. Use gloves to put the dead bird in a plastic bag for disposal.”

If the bird is ill, contact Paul Napierala, a wildlife biologist at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, at (715) 697-3642, or non-game ecologist Armund Baltz at (608) 267-0866.

Since outbreaks began in the United States in January, more than 24 million poultry — mostly turkeys — have been affected or forced to be slaughtered in 25 states as of Monday to try to curb the spread, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 600 wild birds in 31 states have been infected, the CDC says.

No human cases have been reported, according to the CDC.

Related to the outbreaks — the first since 2016 — are skyrocketing prices for eggs as Easter and its egg-coloring tradition approach, industry sources say. Some grocers’ egg shelves are bare, or nearly so.

Properly cooked poultry does not transmit the avian flu.

Wisconsin residents who have questions about domesticated birds in their care should contact the Wisconsin Department of Agricuture Trade and Consumer Protection at (608) 255-4872 (business hours) or (800) 943-0003 (after hours and weekends).

Recent headlines from News 8 Now

Live Updates | City official: 10,000-plus killed in Mariupol

Seasonal weight restrictions ending in La Crosse County

Cameron Park Farmers Market in La Crosse preps to take root for season

Mayo adjusts parking for construction of new hospital building in La Crosse