Highly pathogenic avian flu detected on Texas coast, says Texas Parks & Wildlife

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department says highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected on the Texas coast.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed the presence in domesticated swans in Nueces County. HPAI is circulating among Texas wild birds as fall migration begins for waterbirds and waterfowl, says TPWD.

Detected in all U.S. states except Hawaii, HPAI is a highly contagious virus that transmits easily among wild and domestic birds. The virus can spread directly between animals and indirectly through environmental contamination.

What are the signs and symptoms of HPAI in birds?

The Texas Animal Health Commission says signs of infection may differ based on the strain of the virus. Birds infected with low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) may show few to no warning signs.

Some signs and symptoms include:

  • Sudden death without clinical signs 
  • Lack of energy and appetite
  • Decreased egg production
  • Soft-shelled or misshapen eggs
  • Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles and hocks
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Incoordination
  • Diarrhea 

Those who locate wild animals with signs consistent with HPAI should contact their local TPWD wildlife biologist.

What are the signs and symptoms of HPAI in humans?

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, some of the reported symptoms of avian flu in humans can range from flu-like symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches) to eye infections (conjunctivitis), pneumonia, and other severe and life-threatening complications.

While the transmission risk of avian influenza from infected birds to people remains low, the public is advised to limit all unnecessary contact with wild birds. If contact cannot be avoided, the public should take basic protective measures.


Anyone who has contact with an animal confirmed to have HPAI and develop signs of illness should immediately contact their health care provider and let them know about the exposure.

DSHS says most human cases of avian flu are believed to result from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces. Infected birds shed virus in saliva, nasal discharges, and feces.

I own birds. How can I protect them from HPAI?

The Texas Animal Health Commission has the following advice on how to reduce exposure chances. 

  • Eliminate opportunities for interaction with wild birds
  • If you have birds at home, do not visit another farm, home or facility with birds If you must visit another premises, be sure to shower and put on clean clothes and shoes beforehand.
  • Make sure your vehicle is clean and free of dirt, manure and other organic material
  • Knowing the signs to look for and monitoring the health of your birds on a regular basis is very important
  • Report sick and dead birds immediately to your veterinarian or TAHC region office

TPWD is recommending wildlife rehabilitators remain cautious when taking in wild animals with clinical signs consistent with HPAI and consider quarantining animals to limit the potential for exposure to other animals within the facility.