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Update on avian cholera outbreak

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  • Dave & Cathy Ortiz
    ... From: DFG News [mailto:DFGNEWS@dfg.ca.gov] Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2007 10:29 AM To: DFG News Subject: ALTHOUGH NOT A DANGER TO HUMANS, PEOPLE NEED TO
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 28, 2007
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      -----Original Message-----
      From: DFG News [mailto:DFGNEWS@...]
      Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2007 10:29 AM
      To: DFG News
      Subject: ALTHOUGH NOT A DANGER TO HUMANS, PEOPLE NEED TO BE AWARE THATAVIAN
      CHOLERA IS COMMON THIS TIME OF YEAR

      Department of Fish and Game

      NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 07:009 Jan. 25, 2007

      Contact: Jane Hendron, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 760-431-9440
      ext. 205
      Alexia Retallack, Department of Fish and Game 916-653-8124

      ALTHOUGH NOT A DANGER TO HUMANS, PEOPLE NEED TO BE AWARE THAT AVIAN CHOLERA
      IS COMMON THIS TIME OF YEAR

      While avian cholera is lethal to waterfowl and other water birds, it does
      not affect humans. Avian cholera (not related to human cholera) is a common
      disease of North American waterfowl and results from infection with the
      bacterium Pasturella multocida. It spreads rapidly from bird-to-bird and can
      kill thousands of birds in a single incident. A bird infected with avian
      cholera dies quickly. Avian cholera die-offs in waterfowl commonly occur
      during the winter months in California, especially during cold spells and
      fog.

      "California and many other states experience waterfowl die-offs from avian
      cholera annually," said Dan Yparraguirre, Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
      wildlife biologist. "California is the winter home and migration area for
      over 60 percent of the waterfowl that winter in the Pacific Flyway. The
      Midwinter Waterfowl Survey indicates that between four and six million
      waterfowl occur in California, making this state, particularly the Central
      Valley, one of the most important wintering areas for waterfowl in North
      America."

      Cold weather and high concentrations of waterbirds create ripe conditions
      for incidents of avian cholera. California currently has three recent
      occurrences at Butte Sink Wildlife Management Area (Colusa County), Merced
      National Wildife Refuge (Merced County), and a suspected incident at Clear
      Lake (Lake County). More occurrences are possible as the winter continues,
      especially in the Central Valley which is a primary destination for
      overwintering waterfowl, although normally losses diminish in late February
      as migration southward begins.

      Dense concentrations of birds enhance the transmission of the bacteria which
      spreads rapidly through bird to bird contact, contact with secretions, or
      ingestion of contaminated food or water. Though avian cholera does not
      affect humans, people should avoid contact with any sick bird or animal.
      Diagnostic tests conducted on birds involved in the die-offs at Butte Sink
      and Merced confirmed avian cholera, and preliminary results indicate the
      presence of Pasturella at Clear Lake.

      Signs of sickness from avian cholera in birds include:
      * A sudden die-off of many birds
      * Lethargy
      * Convulsions
      * Swimming in circles
      * Throwing the head back between the wings
      * Erratic flight such as flying upside down or trying to land a foot
      or more above the water
      * Mucous discharge
      * Soiling or matting of the feathers around the vent, eyes, or bill
      * Pasty, fawn-colored or yellow droppings
      * Blood-stained discharge

      Over the last 30 years in California, documented bird losses due to diseases
      and pollution ranged from a low of 10,500 in 1977-78 to a high of 169,300 in
      1991-92. The majority of the bird losses in 1991-92 consisted of 150,000
      eared grebes that died due to avian cholera at the Salton Sea. Average
      annual loss of migratory birds to disease in California is about 25,000
      birds. These figures are for birds picked up and disposed of, and the actual
      losses are greater. In 2005, the last full year of available data from the
      National Wildlife Health Center, of the nearly 12,000 birds picked up in
      California, most diagnosed causes of mortality were: petroleum spills
      (5,000); salmonellosis (2,400); botulism (1,800) and starvation (1,500).

      The DFG and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service work closely and quickly in
      responding to any water bird die-off in California which involves the prompt
      removal and disposal of dead birds. Samples are collected for diagnostic
      testing to verify presumptions of avian cholera and to test for other
      diseases such as avian influenza. Dead wild birds should be reported to
      877-968-2473.

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