HPAI and Wild Turkeys

During the 2022 wild turkey season, there have been several confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in wild turkeys in Montana and Wyoming. While the news in concerning, it is not unexpected and the National Wild Turkey Federation and it agency partners, specifically the NWTF Technical Committee, have been closely monitoring the spread of HPAI. 

HPAI is something we take very seriously as it is highly contagious amongst birds and has a high mortality rate in domestic and commercial poultry.

Below are some basics about HPAI.

  • Avian influenza refers to disease in birds caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses. Avian influenza A viruses have been isolated from more than 100 different species of wild birds around the world. These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. Wild aquatic birds include waterbirds (waterfowl) such as ducks, geese, swans, gulls, and terns, and shorebirds, such as storks, plovers, and sandpipers. Wild aquatic birds, especially dabbling ducks, are considered reservoirs (hosts) for avian influenza A viruses.
  • Wild aquatic birds can be infected with avian influenza A viruses in their intestines and respiratory tract, but some species, such as ducks, may not get sick. However, avian influenza A viruses are very contagious among birds, and some of these viruses can sicken and will kill certain domesticated bird species, including chickens, ducks and turkeys.   
  • Avian influenza is either classified as either low pathogenic or high pathogenic and unfortunately we are dealing with the highly pathogenic avian influenza which causes severe disease and high mortality in infected poultry. 
  • According to the USDA HPAI has been confirmed in nearly 1,000 wild birds and a staggering 35 million birds in commercial or backyard flocks. 
  • HPAI has been confirmed in 34 states as of yesterday.
  • HPAI poses very low risk to humans

Download the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service document on HPAI.