U.S. Forest Service officials in Cordova have confirmed that a sick bald eagle captured in Cordova in mid-May has tested positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1).
Cordova Ranger District Wildlife Biologist Brandt Meixell said the eagle had been euthanized before being sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage for testing. Results are still pending on a second bald eagle also found in the Cordova area and determined to be ill, he said.
Avian influenza is spread in the feces and respiratory secretions of infected birds. The risk to human health is low, but avian influenza poses a serious threat to wild and domestic birds. Raptors, including bald eagles, are especially susceptible to mortality from resulting infections.
U.S.F.W. officials advise against picking up or handing birds that are dead or appear sick or feeding birds as bird congregations can facilitate the spread of disease.
They also recommend washing hands thoroughly after contact with any bird or bird fecal matter, preventing contact of domestic or captive birds with wild birds, and cooking wild eggs and game birds thoroughly at above 165 degrees before eating.