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Bird flu surfaces in Campbell County, first case reported

GILLETTE, Wyo.— A lethal bird virus rampaging across the nation and Wyoming has made its first appearance in Campbell County.

Approximately a dozen birds that were found deceased in mid-May on Aster Avenue, in central Campbell County, reportedly succumbed to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or bird flu, Wyoming State Veterinarian Hallie Hasel confirmed June 1.

Campbell County sheriff’s deputies responded to the area on May 17 for the original report of possible animal damage, Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds said on May 18, after a resident called to report finding 12 of his roosters and believed they had been killed.

The roosters did not appear to have been killed by a predator, the deputy wrote in his report, while another rooster on the property was stumbling around with poor balance and vomited a clear liquid.

Samples were collected at the scene by a member of Hasel’s office that reportedly confirmed the presence of bird flu on May 20, according to a report published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which states there have now been 30 cases of the disease in Campbell County as of June 1.

Statewide, there have been 350 infected birds across eight backyard flocks, per USDA.

Bird flu is lethal to all birds, domesticated and wild, Hasel said, adding that an affected bird will typically be lethargic and could stop eating while reducing the number of eggs it lays or stops laying altogether.

By the time symptoms appear, death is not too far away, per Hasel, who said that in most cases the afflicted bird has died before a member of her office can get there.

“You can lose your entire flock in three days,” Hasel said on June 1, not that there is much to be done aside from removing the afflicted bird and potentially euthanizing it to prevent spreading the disease as there is no treatment available.

To reduce the risk of exposure for backyard flocks, she recommends keeping the flock confined to a fully enclosed pen to prevent the flock from encountering any wild birds, especially waterfowl, which Hasel said are bird flu carriers that may not always exhibit symptoms.

Residents should reduce the number of visits to other flocks or stop entirely, for the time being, she continued, adding that care should be taken to regularly clean flocks’ living quarters and to decontaminate anything that comes into contact with another flock, including shoes, before caring for their own flocks.

Hasel’s office is currently working to educate the public about bird flu and is working directly with owners of infected birds to properly dispose of any that have died.

With migration patterns slowing for the season, Hasel said that she expects the number of positive bird flu cases to move in a downward trend.

The USDA’s website shows the number of cases nationwide dipping from 14.7 million confirmed cases in April to 780,000 in May.