TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) has issued a warning to Kansans that avian Influenza, or bird flu, could return to infect domestic and wild birds this fall.

According to the KDA, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) may return in the fall as states adjacent to Kansas experience a rise in confirmed cases. The migration of wild birds could also put domestic birds in Kansas at risk again.

There are no current cases of HPAI in Kansas, but infections were reported earlier in the year. Bird flu was first documented in Kansas in March by the KDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreak affected several Kansas poultry farms and caused zoos to take precautions to save their bird species.

Poultry breeders are encouraged by the KDA to continue monitoring their flocks. The agency is placing a heavy emphasis on biosecurity. Some tips to prevent HPAI include:

  • Prevent contact with wild birds, especially wild waterfowl. Remove any potential nesting areas for wild birds.
  • Cover and enclose outdoor feeding areas, and cover stored feed.
  • Take all possible steps to separate wild birds from having any access to your flock or their living area.
  • Clean and disinfect any vehicle tires or equipment that has been on other farms or other locations where poultry or wild birds are present.
  • Wear clean clothing, boots and shoes when in contact with your flock.
  • Restrict unauthorized people and vehicles.
  • Isolate new birds.
  • Stay informed about the health of birds in your area.

Symptoms of HPAI include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and other signs of respiratory distress; lack of energy and appetite; decreased water consumption; decreased egg production and/or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs; incoordination; and diarrhea. Avian Influenza can also cause sudden death in birds even if they aren’t showing other symptoms.

While very rare, humans can also contract the bird flu, according to the CDC. One case of a human infected with the bird flu was reported when a Colorado prison inmate fell ill in April. Humans infected with HPAI experience limited symptoms and generally do not become seriously ill.

If you have birds showing symptoms of HPAI, contact your veterinarian or call KDA toll-free at 833-765-2006 or by email at kda.hpai@ks.gov.

For more information on HPAI in Kansas, click here.