Avian cholera detected in wild waterfowl in Gibson County

Wildlife officials have confirmed the presence of avian cholera in geese
from western Gibson County. Diagnostic testing was conducted at the U.S.
Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center.

Avian cholera is common among North American waterfowl, although the
Gibson County detection is the first time the disease has been
documented in wild birds in Indiana.

In total about 350 birds—mostly snow geese—have been found dead since
the beginning of December. Tens of thousands of waterfowl spend winter
in this part of the state, so the incidence of disease appears to be
very low.

Avian cholera poses minimal risk to humans or to the commercial poultry
industry, but it is highly contagious among wild birds, especially
waterfowl. It is caused by the bacterium /Pasteurella multocida/ and is
unrelated to avian influenza.

The DNR, together with federal and private partners, has increased
surveillance of waterfowl populations throughout the state and is
carefully removing and disposing of carcasses to decrease the risk of
transmission to other birds.

Avian cholera spreads through bird-to-bird contact, ingestion of food
and water containing the infectious bacterium, and scavenging of
infected carcasses. Infected birds often die quickly, but might appear
sluggish and otherwise exhibit abnormal behavior. While the disease
could result in high mortality rates in small areas, it is not expected
to have a significant effect on overall waterfowl populations.

To help prevent the spread of avian cholera, waterfowl hunters in
southwest Indiana should consider cleaning and disinfecting their gear,
including waders and decoys, using warm, soapy water.

Waterfowl hunters should also use gloves when cleaning birds; avoid
eating, drinking, or smoking during cleaning; and thoroughly wash their
hands afterwards.

Animals known or suspected to be ill should not be consumed.

Duck season in southern Indiana ended on Jan. 21, and goose season runs
through Feb. 11. The Indiana Light Goose Conservation Order Permits
program allows the harvest of light geese from Feb. 12 through Mar. 31,
2018.

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