Gallatin County officials were notified that avian influenza A (H5N1) was detected in a flock of domestic poultry located in rural Gallatin County. Below are some details and what to do if you have questions regarding the risk of H5N1 spread in Gallatin County.

Report any sudden onset of illness or death in your flock.

  • Your local veterinarian
  • Montana Department of Livestock – 406-444-2976
  • Please report dead or sick wild birds to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.
    • Local FWP Warden or Regional Office
    • Gallatin County FWP Office – 406-585-9010
    • State FWP Wildlife Veterinarian – 406-577-7880

National Details:

  • As of April 28, 2022, H5N1 viruses have been found in U.S. commercial and backyard birds in 29 states and in wild birds in 34 states.
  • A Colorado person has tested positive for avian influenza A (H5) and was a confirmed case by the CDC. This case occurred in a person who had direct exposure to poultry and was actively involved in the depopulation of a flock with presumptive H5N1 bird flu. For more details, see the CDCs media statement. This is the first case in the U.S. that has been detected in a human. While it meets the case definition (known exposure, symptoms, and PCR (+)), additional serologic testing is being conducted by CDC. Serologic testing will help distinguish whether the detection of genetic material in the nasal passage constitutes infection, or just exposure, as the virus could be transiently acquired in the nasal passage through work with sick poultry. An antibody response would confirm infection. 

Local Details:

  • Officials were notified that avian influenza A (H5N1) was detected in a flock of domestic poultry located in rural Gallatin County.
  • The Montana Department of Livestock has identified a “Surveillance Zone” around this location to monitor potential spread of the disease and additional cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).
  • If you identify potential illness in your flock, report it, and avoid contact with surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from wild birds or domestic birds. You should avoid contact with poultry and wild birds that appear ill or dead.  If you must handle sick or dead poultry, you should wear proper PPE and wash your hands with soap and water afterwards. 

Quick Links:

Avian Flu FAQs

Avian Influenza (AI) virus is a naturally occurring virus of birds. AI viruses are classified into two groups, based on the severity of disease they cause in infected poultry. Low pathogenic Avian Influenza viruses (LPAI) generally cause no clinical illness, or only minor symptoms in birds. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) viruses are extremely infectious and fatal to poultry and some species of wild birds.

Human infections with HPAI have generally occurred after close and prolonged contact with infected birds or the excretions/secretions of infected birds.  Different HPAI viruses have infected people in other countries and caused serious illness and death in some cases. 

Although the CDC considers the risk of HPAI spreading to humans to be very low, Montanans should take precautions when handling game birds or any sick or dead bird they find. Whenever possible, avoid contact with sick or dead wildlife. Even if a bird is not suspected to have died from a contagious disease, gloves should always be worn if a dead animal must be handled for disposal, and wash your hands with soap and water afterwards. 

Find more information from the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. 

Click here for proper PPE information. 

A ten (10) kilometer “Surveillance Zone” has been established around the original location. This area includes all of Manhattan and parts of northwest Belgrade.

Residents within this zone should be aware of birds around them. If you own outdoor birds, be sure to monitor your flock’s health closely, and if you see signs of illness or death be sure to report it right away. See below for signs of illness to watch for in birds. 

  • Avoid contact with wild birds. Be sure to isolate domestic outdoor birds from wild birds. Wild birds can carry and be infected with the avian influenza A even if they don’t look sick. What to do if you find a dead bird.
  • Use an N95 level respirator and proper PPE if you think a bird might be infected. Always be sure to wash your hands with soap and water after handling birds. 
  • Do not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva, mucous, or feces from wild or domestic birds.

For bird owners:

  • Prevent contact between wild or migratory birds and domestic poultry, including access by wild birds to feed and water sources.
  • House birds indoors to the extent possible to limit exposure to wild or migratory birds.
  • Limit visitor access to areas where birds are housed.
  • Use dedicated clothing and protective footwear when caring for domestic poultry.
  • Wash hands after handling poultry.
  • Immediately isolate sick animals and contact your veterinarian or MDOL.

The Montana Department of Livestock will be monitoring the area and may contact poultry owners in the area.

Other ways you can protect your birds:

  • Reduce the attractiveness of your farm for wild birds.  Clean up litter and spilled feed around coops.  Drain puddles or fill in low areas ahead of spring thaw to deter wild migratory ducks and geese from visiting your property. See this cleaning and disinfecting list from the USDA. 
  • Use non-lethal methods to deter wild birds.  Don’t feed wildlife, and if you own poultry, don’t interact with injured or wild birds.
  • Don’t walk through or drive trucks, tractors, or equipment in areas where waterfowl or other wildlife feces may be. If you can’t avoid this, clean your shoes, vehicles, and equipment thoroughly to prevent bringing disease home.
  • If you own poultry, think carefully before visiting fairs, swaps and exhibitions where birds are commingled, shown, or sold. The Montana Department of Livestock has issued an official order prohibiting poultry exhibitions, shows, and swaps in the State of Montana until June 7, 2022. If you go, take extra precautions before returning home to your flock.  Shower, change clothes, and clean and disinfect shoes or boots before returning to your poultry yard or barn.
  • Avoid contact with wild birds. Wild birds can carry and be infected with the avian influenza A even if they don’t look sick. What to do if you find a dead bird.
  • If you own any sort of poultry (including backyard chickens, ducks, etc.), be sure to monitor their health closely and report any illness or unknown cause of death.
  • Do not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva, mucous, or feces from wild or domestic birds.
  • If you are contacted by the Montana Department of Livestock, follow all directions regarding care and report any illness or death in your flock.

Find more information on detecting illness in domestic birds on the Montana Department of Livestock websiteReport any symptoms to the Montana Department of Livestock right away!

Montana Department of Livestock: 406-444-2976

Cases of H5N1 in humans can range from mild (e.g. eye infection, upper respiratory symptoms) to severe (e.g. pneumonia) and can result in death. Spread of earlier H5N1 viruses from one infected person to a close contact in the past have happened very rarely and have not led to sustained person-to-person spread.

Your state or local health department will ask you to watch for these symptoms:

  • Fever (Temperature of 100°F [37.8°C] or greater) 
  • Feeling feverish/Chills (a fever may not always be present)
  • Cough 
  • Sore throat 
  • Difficulty breathing/Shortness of breath 
  • Eye tearing, redness or irritation 
  • Headaches 
  • Runny or stuffy nose 
  • Muscle or body aches 
  • Diarrhea 

Report any symptoms to your state or local health department right away!

Gallatin City-County Health Department: 406-582-3100

If you had close contact with infected birds or surfaces contaminated by them because you are responding to a bird flu outbreak as part of your job, your state or local health department should contact you. If you have not been contacted by your state or local health department after your exposure, contact them as soon as you can so they can help monitor your health.

Gallatin City-County Health Department: 406-582-3100

People who become sick within 10 days of their exposure to infected birds should isolate at home away from their household members and should not go to work or school until they are proven not to have bird flu virus infection and have recovered from their illness. The local or state public health department can assist in monitoring and advising when isolation is no longer required.

Close contacts (family members, etc.) of people who have been exposed to bird flu viruses should monitor their health and report to their health care provider any new symptoms, especially respiratory symptoms, within 10 days of the exposure.

Yes! It is safe to eat properly handled and cooked poultry in the United States. Properly handling and cooking poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165˚F kills bacteria and viruses, including bird flu viruses. People should handle raw poultry hygienically and cook all poultry and poultry products (including eggs) all the way before eating. For more information, visit the CDCs website.

This information was retrieved from the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

HPAI infections in domestic cats is very low, and appears to be associated with outbreaks in domestic or wild birds. Cases are typically acquired through ingestion of raw meat likely infected with the HPAI virus. Fortunately, there is no evidence to date that domestic cats play a sustained role in the natural transmission cycle of HPAI viruses.

HPAI infections in domestic dogs is also very low. Whether dogs shed HPAI is unknown at this time. Practicing good hygiene (e.g., washing hands and frequently disinfecting surfaces) and limiting contact with pets showing signs of respiratory illness (e.g. coughing, sneezing, wheezing, nasal discharge) are reasonable precautions to take.

Information on the susceptibility of all avian species with avian influenza is not available, however, the risk can be minimized by avoiding contact with wild birds. Even though HPAI has been detected in the United States, indoor birds continue to have a very low risk of becoming infected. Birds housed outdoors, however, should be protected from contact with wild migratory birds (especially waterfowl and shorebirds), their droppings, and water frequented by waterfowl and shorebirds. If infected, it may be possible for companion birds to spread the virus.

Talk to your veterinarian if you have further questions or concerns.