With hunting season under way, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) would like to remind hunters and the public to take care in handling and preparing harvested wildlife.
Hunters and the public should also be aware of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) or bird flu. This flu has not been discovered in Louisiana this year but has been reported in 46 states, including Texas and Mississippi. LDWF routinely investigates reports of sick or dead bird events if large numbers are impacted.
While the virus presents a low risk to humans, it is important to avoid contact with sick birds and be mindful that virus may also be transported by your hunting equipment. If you hunt waterfowl or have backyard poultry, plan for added biosecurity measures. (http://www.bah.state.mn.us/media/HPAI-Notice-Backyard-Final.pdf).
Some general safety guidelines for hunters and others handling wildlife and their tissues include:
•Do not handle or eat sick game.
•Field dress and prepare game outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
•Wear rubber or disposable nitrile gloves while handling and cleaning game.
•When done handling game, wash hands thoroughly with soap or disinfectant and clean knives, equipment, and surfaces that were exposed to game with hot soapy water and a 10% bleach solution.
•Do not eat, drink or consume tobacco products while handling animals.
•All game should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
•Avoid contact with surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from wild or domestic birds.
•Waterfowl hunters should adhere to these guidelines
Some protective actions around birds to follow include:
•As a general rule, people should avoid wild birds and observe them only from a distance.
•Avoid contact with domestic birds (poultry) that appear ill or have died.
•People who work with poultry and wild birds should receive the annual influenza (flu) vaccine. This action reduces the potential for genetic changes in avian influenza that may render the virus more apt to infect people, thus increasing the potential of pandemic influenza.