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DHEC, DNR send warning about bird ‘mass die-off’

If you’re headed to the South Carolina coast this Memorial Day weekend, state health officials have a warning for you: Don’t mess with sick or dead birds. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said in a release Friday that Charleston County has experienced a “mass die-off of wild vultures.” “Some of these dead vultures tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, caused by influenza virus subtypes, including H5N1,” the release said. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control officials urge community members to ensure that they, their pets and domestic animals avoid contact with dead or sick vultures, other birds and wild animals and avoid areas where dead birds have been found. The CDC released this information in March about the virus. “While the risk of HPAI transmission to people or pets and tame animals is thought to be low, the risk is also not well known and is best avoided by not having contact with dead birds,” officials said. “The virus causing HPAI can be spread through feathers and fecal material, or dirt contaminated by infected birds.” Handling dead birds without recommended protective measures increases the risk of transmission. “SCDNR will continue monitoring and surveillance and encourages members of the public to report unusual bird mortality events.”Anyone who comes in contact with a dead vulture or other dead bird in the area should seek medical attention if they become ill with symptoms of fevers, cough, fatigue and body aches, officials said. They also urged people to report potential exposure to health care providers and local health departments. DHEC recommends monitoring for symptoms for 10 days after the last exposure to a bird with HPAI. The US Department of Agriculture and officials with the Clemson Livestock Poultry Health are also aware of the bird die-off and outbreak in Charleston County and continue to work with state health and DNR officials to monitor the situation.

If you’re headed to the South Carolina coast this Memorial Day weekend, state health officials have a warning for you: Don’t mess with sick or dead birds.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said in a release Friday that Charleston County has experienced a “mass die-off of wild vultures.”

“Some of these dead vultures tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, caused by influenza virus subtypes, including H5N1,” the release said.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control officials urge community members to ensure that they, their pets and domestic animals avoid contact with dead or sick vultures, other birds and wild animals and avoid areas where dead birds have been found.

The CDC released this information in March about the virus.

“While the risk of HPAI transmission to people or pets and tame animals is thought to be low, the risk is also not well known and is best avoided by not having contact with dead birds,” officials said.

“The virus causing HPAI can be spread through feathers and fecal material, or dirt contaminated by infected birds.

“Handling dead birds without recommended protective measures increases the risk of transmission.

“SCDNR will continue monitoring and surveillance and encourages members of the public to report unusual bird mortality events.”

Anyone who comes in contact with a dead vulture or other dead bird in the area should seek medical attention if they become ill with symptoms of fevers, cough, fatigue and body aches, officials said.

They also urged people to report potential exposure to health care providers and local health departments.

DHEC recommends monitoring for symptoms for 10 days after the last exposure to a bird with HPAI.

The US Department of Agriculture and officials with the Clemson Livestock Poultry Health are also aware of the bird die-off and outbreak in Charleston County and continue to work with state health and DNR officials to monitor the situation.

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