WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCBD) — South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has confirmed that some dead vultures found in a West Ashley neighborhood tested positive for a highly pathogenic avian flu.
Dore Carlo originally found dozens of the dead vultures near two retention ponds behind his home on May 7.
“We had friends come over, who had a golf cart, and we took a ride back here and saw dozens of dead ones,” Carlo recalled.
He reported it to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), which took samples from the birds on May 10.
“DHEC advised me to get the word out best I could to keep children and pets away from the area,” Carlo said.
Health officials said avian flu can spread through any contact with the birds, as well as through their feathers or fecal material. However, the risk of people or pets contracting the virus is considered low.
“Anytime it does happen, that’s when we call it a novel flu strain – or novel infection – anytime it goes from animal host to human host,” said Jonathan Knoche, a DHEC public health physician.
Will Dillman, SCDNR assistant chief of wildlife, said direct sunlight and summer heat help kill the virus.
“As the weather heats up this should be less prevalent and run its course,” he said.
Almost a month after the dead vultures were first reported, Carlo said they are still losing two or three vultures a day, and more than 20 carcasses still sit in the neighborhood.
Now, he wants to know who will get rid of all the carcasses surrounding the retention ponds where people walk their dogs and children play.
“There’s other diseases I’m sure will come along from all these dead birds, not to mention they are bringing other animals around that would be feeding off of them,” said Carlo.
Both SCDNR and DHEC said there is nothing they can do to remove the dead birds.
“Moving those carcasses around to other places has the potential to spread that [avian flu] around,” said Dillman.
Carlo said he is working with his homeowner’s association to remove the carcasses to keep his family and neighbors safe.
The Count on 2 Investigators did reach out to the HOA property manager to see what other avenues they are taking since SCDNR and DHEC will not remove the dead vultures.
We have yet to hear back.