Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Prevention

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI—or bird flu) was detected on the west coast earlier this year. Audubon Nature Institute has been monitoring this situation as part of a continuing dialogue with the USDA, Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) members, veterinarians with the State of Louisiana and other stakeholders identified by the AZA Zoo and Aquarium All Hazards Preparedness, Response, and Recovery (ZAAHP) Fusion Center.

HPAI is a form of avian flu spread by wild migratory birds. Government officials are concerned about its spread to other bird collections. While this avian flu has not been detected in our area, it has had an effect in other parts of the country, particularly with commercial flocks of poultry.

Audubon Zoo has prepared extensively and has taken precautionary measures to protect its bird collection.

  • Free-roaming birds such as peacocks and guineafowl have been sequestered, as have other susceptible birds in the Audubon collection.
  • Audubon animal staff must change out of work clothes and footwear before going home for the day, and must change into clean uniforms each morning when arriving on-grounds.
  • Access to some behind-the-scenes animal areas has been reduced to essential personnel only. These areas are secured with special locks.
  • Public duck feeders have been removed to discourage wild waterfowl from gathering on-grounds.
  • Audubon continues to monitor HPAI through regular communication with the USDA, the State of Louisiana and AZA.

Is there a risk to humans?
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no human infections with these viruses have been detected in the United States. The CDC states, “CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI infections in poultry to be low, but has developed interim guidance on testing.”  Visit www.cdc.gov for details.

Is the spread of Avian Flu being adequately monitored?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the United States has the strongest avian flu surveillance program in the world.

What protocols are in place at Audubon Nature Institute?
We are limiting contact between our region’s wild migratory birds and Audubon’s collection of birds. There are strict new protocols in place for animal care professionals limiting the possibility of bringing HPAI into the collection. Movement within behind-the-scenes areas of the Zoo is restricted to minimize potential cross-contamination.