Guidelines for Handling Wild Birds to Reduce the Risk of Avian Bird Flu

Armen Hareyan's picture

While there have been NO cases of Avian Bird Flu transmitted to humans in North America, there remains an increased risk to hunters or those whose hobbies bring them into contact with wild birds.


The Avian Bird Flu virus can be transmitted through contact with an infected bird, and/or its droppings, feathers, intestines and blood. Fecal material can contaminate dust, soil, water, feed, equipment, clothing, and feathers. The transmission of Avian Bird Flu viruses to people remains relatively uncommon and in most cases occurs as a result of direct contact with infected birds or their feces.

Hunters and employees of waterfowl processing operations may be at increased risk of exposure to Avian Bird Flu. Wild birds and waterfowl are considered to be a natural carrier of the virus. To date, only the less serious strain (H5N1) of the Bird Flu virus has been detected in wild bird populations in Maryland and has NOT yet been transmitted to humans.

To protect yourself and others, the following precautions are recommended to reduce the risk of contracting any disease from wildlife:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a mask
  • Wear gloves when cleaning game
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke when handling birds or carcasses
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water or use instant hand sanitizer/ alcohol wipes
  • Clean tools and working area with soap and water; then disinfect surface with 10% bleach solution
    Properly dispose of waste from carcasses
  • Cook game birds thoroughly: meat should reach an internal temperature of 155 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill disease organisms and parasites.