What is HPAI?

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is contagious disease affecting wild and domestic birds. It is spread through respiratory and fecal secretions, direct bird to bird interactions, or contact with contaminated environments, and has been associated with high mortality rates and large mortality events in wild birds. Species most at risk include gulls, waterfowl, ravens, crows, turkeys, grouse, and raptors. HPAI also affects domestic poultry, waterfowl and parrots.

Symptoms to look for:

  • Birds can be asymptomatic carriers and still pass the virus to others, but some clinical signs of HPAI include:
    • Respiratory illness (sneezing, ocular or nasal discharge, respiratory distress, swelling around the eyes)
    • Lethargy, listless behavior
    • Neurologic abnormalities (poor balance, trouble walking, abnormal head and neck posture, circling or falling over, tremors, seizures)
    • Gastrointestinal disease (foul smell/diarrhea)
    • Circulation abnormalities (swelling of the limbs, patchy discoloration of fleshy areas)
    • Sudden death, especially acute death with no obvious cause

What do I do if I find an injured or orphaned high-risk species?

  • Don’t panic! We are accepting high-risk species but our in-take procedure has adjusted a bit to ensure all patients and ambassadors are kept safe.
    • First: Call the Wildlife Center at (412)-345-7300 x 500. If your call is received after hours, please leave a voice mail message, and your call will be returned as soon as possible.
    • We will schedule an appointment time between 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. for you to bring the animal to the clinic
    • Wear gloves while handling the animal
    • Place it into a plastic carrier or cardboard box with a towel on the bottom
    • Do not offer any food or water, and allow the animal to remain in a dark and quiet space
    • Line your vehicle’s trunk with plastic garbage bags or a tarp to place the carrier on
    • Once arriving onsite, follow the traffic signs to direct you to our high-risk triage building (Pre-release building)
    • A staff member will be waiting to meet you at the entrance (if not, please ring the bell)
    • Please bring the animal in a carrier/box to the entrance of the building
    • We will intake the patient, and will provide you supplies to clean and disinfect your vehicle and clean your hands

What can I do to help mitigate risk?

  • Avoid feeding waterfowl at ponds (Gathering large groups of animals in one place encourages disease to spread)
  • If you have pet birds or domestic poultry, avoid public ponds where ducks and geese might congregate
  • Call your family vet immediately if any pet birds show signs of illness
  • Disinfect your bird feeders
    • While songbirds are not considered at the highest risk, disinfecting bird feeder with 1:10 bleach/water solution helps prevent all diseases from spreading and keeps birds healthy
    • Always rake up old seed shells from under feeders