Skip Navigation


North Carolina prepares for HPAI
North Carolina is free from HPAI
HPAI was confirmed in Tennessee March 5, 2017
All N.C. poultry farms should be following
STRICT biosecurity protocols
What is avian influenza? Consumers & Food Safety Biosecurity FAQs Small & Backyard Flocks Wild birds and hunting Bird shows/sales

Guidance for Hunters—Protect Yourself and Your Birds From Avian Influenza

What to do if you find a dead bird

Information from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

What should I do if I find a dead bird?
Generally speaking the finding of a single dead bird is no cause for concern - birds die all the time from natural or routine causes.

However, if you come across significant numbers of dead birds at unusual times of the year or in unusual spots, you should report the finding to the veterinary or health authorities (or local equivalent) who will take the appropriate step to remove the birds and arrange for autopsies to determine the cause of death. In the meantime, avoid touching the carcasses.

Do I run a risk if I touch dead birds?
Wild birds can carry several diseases that are infectious to people. If dead birds are handled, it is important to wash your hands with soap and water as soon as possible. Avoid touching your face and certainly do not eat or smoke until you have washed your hands. Clean any soiling on clothing with soap and water.

What am I at risk from in birds?
Although the risk of catching influenza from a bird that has avian influenza may be low, birds can carry other infections which can cause gastrointestinal upsets in humans such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. It is always advisable therefore to observe common standards of personal hygiene. This is particularly important when handling birds in the preparation of food.

What should I do if I find several dead wild birds near or among my poultry?
Report without delay to your local veterinary authorities (or local equivalent). They will take the necessary action and advise on what to do next.

Is it necessary to report deaths in birds kept in outside aviaries or in game birds?
You should only report cases where a number of birds have died within a short time and there could have been contact with migratory waterbirds.

Do I have to worry about pets eating or bringing dead birds into the house?
It is always sensible to prevent pets eating wild bird or other animal carcasses or carrying them around because the deaths could have been caused by poisoning or a severe bacterial infection.

My cat/dog found some dead birds but did not eat them - does this mean it will get avian influenza?
In the unlikely event that the dead birds had died from avian influenza, the risk to other animals would be extremely low.

Hunting water fowl

Information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Download a fact sheet

While experts believe there is currently very little risk to people in the United States, it is always wise to practice good hygiene when handling or cleaning wild birds or poultry. Here are some specific practices to follow:

Clean completely
If you have come in contact with wild birds, do not rub your eyes, eat, drink, or smoke before you wash. Wash your hands thoroughly in soap and water or alcohol-based hand products. Flu viruses are also inactivated with many common disinfectants such as detergents, 10 percent household bleach, and alcohol. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center offers cleaning recommendations.

Cook thoroughly
Cook all meat, including wild birds and poultry, thoroughly (155 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, 64 to 74 Celsius) to kill disease organisms and parasites. Avoid raw or partially cooked (runny) eggs.The Department of Agriculture has some tips on safe food handling.

Handle with care
Hunters should always follow common-sense sanitary practices when handling, cleaning, and preparing wild birds, as described above. Be sure to sanitize knives, other cleaning tools, and food preparation surfaces.

Admire from a distance
As a general rule, you should observe wildlife, including wild birds, from a distance. This protects you from possible exposure to viruses and minimizes the disturbance to the animal. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning or handling backyard feeders, bird baths or other equipment.

Inform authorities
If you find a sick or dead animal, contact your state, county, tribal, or local natural resources agency.



Office of the State Veterinarian
N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Mailing Address:1030 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1030
Physical Address: 2 W. Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: 919-707-3250; FAX: 919-733-2277

How can we make this page better for you?
Contact the NCDA&CS

Found a bug? Have a suggestion? Fill out the form below and we'll take a look!

Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Question or Comments:

Back to top

Get Email Alerts

Stay up to date with NCDA&CS. Sign up to receive the latest news and upcoming events via email.