“Why experts say you should immediately stop filling birdfeeders”. So blares a leading headline on our state’s top “news” site, Al.com. Never mind that there is only one expert cited, and she lives in Minnesota. At any rate, here’s what Dr. Victoria Hall has to say.
“Unfortunately, we have a lot of gaps in knowledge about the role of songbirds in HPAI outbreaks. We have some data from previous outbreaks around the world, but this outbreak is very different. The 2022 outbreak is unique because of the very high levels of transmission of the currently circulating H5N1 virus strain in wildlife.”Hall
Let me translate:
“…we have a lot of gaps in knowledge about the role of songbirds in HPAI outbreaks.” Trans–We don’t know.
“With minimal viral surveillance being done with songbirds, it is hard to measure the risk of transmission from songbirds to other birds.” Trans–We don’t have enough data to prove anything, but I am an expert, so I don’t need any.
Let me step in to the void with what is actually known. Here’s useful information from the CDC, cited near the end of the article:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 27 million cases of avian influenza have been reported in backyard and commercial poultry as of April 8th. Another 637 cases have been reported in wild birds in 31 states, including Alabama. The Alabama case was reported Feb. 23 in an American wigeon found in Limestone County.AL.com
Divide 637 by 27 million, and you have it–0.0000236% of documented bird flu cases in the US have been found in wild birds. I personally am going to roll the dice and keep my bird feeders full, and my chickens fed. Though I will end with a witty fake headline:
All cases of bird flu reported in Alabama were in the wild bird population.
Of course that number is only one, which occurred almost two two months ago, and was a couple of counties away from here. I just like to live dangerously.