The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reports that the first case of avian flu in a wild bird has been detected in our state.

The disease, confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory last week, is highly infectious among birds.

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The avian flu was detected in a great horned owl at a rehabilitation facility in Wichita County, about 150 miles northwest of Dallas.

A commercial pheasant flock in Erath County, about 100 miles southwest of Dallas, contained the first birds in Texas to test positive for the disease, in April. The avian flu has spread to 38 states.

“Symptoms include diarrhea, incoordination, lethargy, coughing and sneezing and sudden death, though birds infected with [avian flu] may not always have outward signs of infection,” the wildlife department stated in a news release.

Here are the department’s recommendations:

  • Facilities with wild or domestic birds should enhance their biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of introduction.
  • The public should limit all unnecessary contact with wild birds.
  • Wildlife rehabilitation centers should be cautious when intaking wild birds with clinical signs the disease and consider quarantining birds to limit the potential exposures.

While risk of transmission to humans is low, the department recommends taking extra hygiene measures, like wearing gloves, washing hands and wearing a mask, if handling birds is necessary.

Anyone who sees wild or domestic birds showing symptoms of the disease is asked to contact the local Texas wildlife biologist.