KSU and KDHE Establish Avian Influenza Hotline
The Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine (KSU) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) have established a toll-free hotline for people to report concerns or ask questions regarding avian influenza, also known as "bird flu". The hotline number is 800-566-4518.
"Many Kansans either raise poultry, hunt birds, or do both," said Dr. Gary Anderson, Director of the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. "Given that every case of avian influenza in humans has occurred primarily because of very close contact with an infected bird, it makes sense to offer Kansans a number to call if they have questions."
Hotline callers will be given options to ask questions about potential avian influenza in humans from contact with infected birds, or to leave a voicemail message with concerns or information on avian influenza in birds or other animals. Calls with questions or information on possible avian influenza in birds in Kansas will be returned on the next business day. Staff from the KSU College of Veterinary Medicine or the KDHE Epidemiologic Services Section will respond to calls from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The much-publicized, highly pathogenic version of H5N1 avian influenza virus has resulted in 159 human deaths reported worldwide since 2003, due largely to bird-to-human spread involving very close contact with infected birds. None of the deaths occurred in North America. There have been no reports of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus in any bird or other animal in North America.
"Just as with people, birds can be infected with many different kinds of influenza, some more severe than others," stated Dr. Gail Hansen, state epidemiologist with KDHE. "Concern over the possibility that highly pathogenic avian influenza might become easily spread among people has lead to monitoring for these viruses on a world-wide scale. Kansas is part of the ongoing monitoring."