avian flu

Bird Flu in Illinois 2022: Where Outbreaks Have Been Detected, Bird Feeder Warning

A highly-virulent strain of avian flu has led to mass-bird deaths in several locations, including Cook County

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Illinois residents are being asked to take down bird feeders and bird baths as a virulent strain of avian flu spreads across the state, but where have outbreaks been detected and what more can you do to help?

Here's what we know so far.

Where have bird flu outbreaks been reported?

According to a map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been at least two known backyard or commercial outbreaks in Illinois so far. Officials also say that a recent mass-death event occurred in Cook County, with more than 200 birds succumbing to the virus.

One backyard outbreak was reported in Carroll County, affecting a flock sized at 38 non-poultry birds. A second outbreak was reported in McLean County with a flock of 35 non-poultry birds sickened, according to the CDC.

The first reported infections in the state impacted wild Canadian geese on March 10, according to the Department of Agriculture. Wild bird deaths have also occurred in Champaign, Fulton, Sangamon and Will counties.

Wildlife officials in suburban Barrington also recently reported an outbreak that left hundreds of birds dead at Baker's Lake. Chris Anchor, wildlife biologist for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, said as many as 200 birds were killed, but more were feared to be dead last week.

The CDC has documented backyard or commercial outbreaks in at least 29 states so far with more than 28 million birds affected.

What type of bird is being affected?

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says the EA H5N1 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is currently impacting wild and domestic birds in the state.

Domestic poultry and wild waterbirds, including bald eagles, have been found to have been infected by the virus.

What do officials want you to know?

Illinois residents are being encouraged to take down bird feeders and bird baths through the end of May to help combat the spread the virus.

According to a press release from the IDNR, residents are being asked to discontinue the use of bird feeders and baths through May 31.

While the strain has not yet been detected in songbird species, the department is still recommending that residents take down bird feeders and bird baths, especially those that waterfowl may visit.

If residents observed five or more deceased birds in one location, it is recommended to contact a wildlife biologist with the department. That can be done through the department’s website.

What else can you do?

The department is also recommending that residents

-Clean and rinse bird feeders with a diluted bleach solution (nine parts water to one part bleach), and to put the feeders away until recommendations change.

-Remove any bird seed at the base of feeders to discourage large gatherings of birds.

-Avoid feeding wild birds in close proximity to domestic flocks.

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