Town of Swansea Announces Results of Avian Flu Testing Following Cluster of Swan Deaths

 Town of Swansea Announces Results of Avian Flu Testing Following Cluster of Swan Deaths
Share it

SWANSEA — The Town of Swansea announces that Avian influenza has been detected in a sample of dead wild birds in town.

The Town of Swansea was recently informed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the National Wildlife Health Center and Tufts that six dead swans in town tested positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). A goose also tested positive for HPAI.

At this time, there have been no reports of Avian flu detected in humans or domestic livestock in Swansea or Bristol County.

Avian flu, also known as “bird flu,” is a common influenza strain that can spread from birds to humans through saliva, nasal secretion and feces. Waterbirds including shorebirds and waterfowl, especially dabbling ducks like mallards, are most likely to carry the virus. While Avian flu is not common among humans, it is very contagious among birds. This flu can be fatal for birds like chickens and turkeys.

In March, the Town of Swansea began monitoring a cluster of bird deaths that initially impacted nine swans in the community. Following its established policies and procedures, the Town of Swansea notified the Massachusetts Division of Wildlife and Fisheries and conducted third-party testing for Avian flu.

A total of 24 swans and one goose have died in Swansea since March. Of the birds that were reported dead, six swans and the goose were sent out to three labs for testing. Several of the dead birds were unable to be reached or were too decomposed to be sent for testing.

“The Town of Swansea will continue to work with our state and federal partners to monitor bird activity in the area and, if needed, conduct further testing,” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Christopher R. Carreiro. “We would like to strongly reiterate that at this time we have had no reports of Avian flu detected in any residents or their domestic livestock, however, we urge community members to exercise extreme caution and not interact with any wild birds.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the public health risk associated with these Avian influenza detections in birds remains low.

Residents that have domestic flocks are advised to make sure that good biosecurity is being used to protect the flock. Flock owners and visitors may accidentally expose their flocks to HPAI through contaminated shoes, clothing or equipment. Community members are encouraged to keep wild waterbirds away from their flock.

Community members are also encouraged to avoid unnecessary contact with birds, if possible, to prevent infection. Infections can happen if the virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled.

If you find a deceased bird in the Town of Swansea, please call Animal Control Officer Lisa White at 508-679-6446.

If the bird is domestic, please call MDAR Animal Health at 617-626-1795, or use the online Poultry Disease Reporting Form. If the bird is wild, please call MDFG Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) at 508-389-6300.

For more information about Avian flu, click here.

Share it

LPR News