About Avian Cholera

Avian cholera is a contagious bacterial disease caused by Pasteurella multocida. The primary means of the infection is exposure to dead birds. P. multocida can linger for several weeks in water and wetlands where affected birds have died. Scavengers can also spread the disease further by tearing open carcasses, and releasing more bacteria from the carcass into the environment.
Signs Of Disease
Avian cholera can occur year-round, but is more apt to occur during spring migration. Sick birds are rarely seen because the disease is usually rapidly fatal. Sick birds can show signs of sluggish behavior, drowsiness, loss of fear of people, erratic flight, or flying into the ground or water. Some affected birds have mucous coming from the nose and mouth, and yellow or blood stained feces. Because they are so sick, captured birds often die within a few minutes. Because birds die quickly, they often have no lesions on the organs. If the bird has been infected for a while it may have small white to yellow spots on the liver and red spots on the heart and possibly the gizzard.
Where is Disease Found?
Avian cholera can be found throughout North America and has been documented in waterfowl in Idaho.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Avian cholera is not considered contagious to humans. When handling sick, injured or dead birds, wear rubber gloves to avoid other infections.
Samples to Collect
If there is concern about this condition, contact a conservation officer or an Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Office. Appropriate samples can be collected for testing if deemed necessary.
Can I Eat The Meat?
Meat from birds that die of avian cholera is not appropriate for human consumption.
What is IDFG doing to help manage this disease?:

IDFG monitors wild waterfowl populations during spring and fall migration to detect mortality associated with Avian Cholera.  Carcass collections are done to minimize environmental contamination to reduce transmission of the disease to other susceptible birds in the area.