America’s national bird has not been immune to a recent string of highly pathogenic avian influenza infections, according to Agriculture Department data tracking the outbreak.
Of the 763 wild birds with confirmed HPAI infections since January, 41 have been bald eagles according to an online dashboard from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The first infection was confirmed on Feb. 26 in Brevard County, Florida; subsequent confirmations have occurred throughout the country, although predominantly in the Southeast, Midwest and New England states.
According to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, bald eagles and great horned owls “are intensely suffering from fatal neurological illness due to HPAI. With these infected birds, humane euthanasia is the only tool we have left to help them.”
Six great horned owls have also been infected with HPAI.
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The outbreak spread from wild birds to commercial flocks in early February, when a Dubois County, Indiana, flock of turkeys reported an outbreak of the virus. Since then, more than 28.5 million birds in commercial and backyard flocks across 29 states have been depopulated due to the virus. The bulk of that figure is composed of commercial layer chickens, more than 20.1 million of which have been depopulated across 11 detections since the start of the outbreak.
The majority of the wild birds reported with HPAI have been snow geese (175 confirmations) and mallards (139).
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