• Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was detected in wild great horned owls in Mesa County on May 19th.
  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, often referred to as bird flu, is a disease found in wild and domestic birds caused by the Avian Influenza A (H5N1) virus.
  • Wild birds can be infected with bird flu and show no signs of illness. They can carry the disease to new areas when migrating, potentially exposing domestic poultry to the virus.
  • The risk to domestic poultry is high, so monitoring the disease is critical to flocks. 
  • The health risk to humans is low, however, some people may have job-related or recreational exposures to birds that put them at higher risk of infection.


  • Initial cases in the region were confirmed in a commercial poultry operation in Montrose County and in backyard flocks in La Plata and Pitkin counties.  
  • The Colorado Department of Agriculture is actively working with producers to protect flocks.


  • As a general precaution, whenever possible people should avoid direct contact with wild birds and observe them only from a distance.
  • Minimize contact with wild birds or sick or dead poultry by wearing gloves and washing your hands with soap and water after touching birds. If available, wear respiratory protection, such as a medical facemask.
  • Hunters should wear gloves when dressing game birds and wash their hands with soap and water after.
  • Watch for symptoms in domestic birds including lack of energy or appetite, soft-shelled or misshappen eggs, and lack of coordination.
  • Do not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva, mucus or feces from wild or domestic birds.


  • Wild Birds
    • If you find three or more dead wild birds in a specific area within a two week period OR if you see live birds showing clinical signs of disease, please contact the local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office at 970-255-6100.
  • Domestic Birds
    • It is important for veterinarians and producers to report any suspicious disease events in poultry flocks to the State Veterinarian’s office at 303-869-9130. If it is after hours, the voicemail message will indicate which veterinarian is on call. 
    • If you have sick birds or birds that have died from unknown causes, help is available at the Colorado Avian Health call line at Colorado State University, their number is 970-297-4008.