The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has temporarily closed Unit 2 of the Four Rivers Conservation Area due to detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Limiting traffic in and out of the area will reduce the risks of spreading the virus to new birds in new areas.
Unit 2 includes wetland pools in the northeast portion of Four Rivers, which is in Vernon and Bates counties. MDC staff will continue to monitor the area and provide updates if any other units require closure. The HPAI was detected in pelicans.
Avian influenza, commonly referred to as bird flu, is a virus that naturally occurs in bird populations. HPAI especially affects birds such as pelicans, waterfowl, shorebirds, and domestic birds such as chickens and turkeys, said MDC State Wildlife Veterinarian Sherri Russell. MDC and other agencies have monitored the outbreak since early January when it was detected in the eastern United States and Canada.
Fortunately, avian influenza does not present an immediate public health concern, Russell said, although on rare occasions it has infected humans and other animals. MDC recommends that people avoid handling sick or dead birds, and to report sick or dead wild birds to MDC.
Citizens can report sick or dead birds by emailing WildlifeHealth@mdc.mo.gov or by calling their local MDC office. MDC’s wildlife health staff are interested in reports of single waterfowl, raptor, or avian scavengers with neurological symptoms – tremors, head tilting, lethargy, loss of coordination, inability to fly or walk properly, or trouble standing upright. They are also interested in waterfowl or other waterbird deaths involving more than five birds where the cause of death is unknown.
For more information, and for updates about avian influenza in wild birds, visit https://mdc.mo.gov/wildlife/wildlife-diseases/highly-pathogenic-avian-influenza-hpai. For domestic poultry situational updates and biosecurity information, visit the Missouri Department of Agriculture website, Agriculture.Mo.Gov/avian-influenza