When the average person reads about something like 'avian influenza' they know it sounds serious, but beyond that has no real comprehension as to what it actually means or what might look like out in the wild.

Well now thanks to a very disturbing video, we can see just how devastating this virus can be.

The grisly discovery happened recently at a lake in Eastern South Dakota.

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The date was February 9 and Watertown ice fisherman Nate Phinney was preparing for a day on a local lake when he encountered a shocking scene.

Frozen into the lake's surface were 1,000 to 1,500 dead snow geese.

Phinney later told Outdoor Life that the sight of dead birds wasn't that unusual, but he said the sheer magnitude of the number of geese on this particular day was extreme.

'Usually, those geese would be spread out all over the lake, and you wouldn’t see them until spring because they’d be covered up by snow. Except we don’t have any snow this year, and the lakes sort of thawed back out in early December, so you get that effect of windrows of dead geese on one side of the lake. It’s kind of a shock.'

After capturing video of the scene, Phinney shared the footage with waterfowler Sean Weaver, who posted it on his Instagram page where it has now been viewed more than 2.4 million times.

Weaver says he believes the birds - mainly juveniles - have probably been incased in the ice since sometime in December.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

'Avian influenza or bird flu refers to the disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses. These viruses naturally spread among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.' 

Avian Flu - United States
Centers For Disease Control
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At last report, the CDC had confirmed Avian Flu in 1,117 counties across the United States, including 31 counties in South Dakota, with four counties reporting more than 40 percent of the cases in the Mount Rushmore State:

  • Aurora County
  • Beadle County
  • Brown County
  • Potter County

The CDC says human infections with bird flu viruses are rare but can occur, usually after close contact with infected birds. Signs and symptoms of infection may include:

  • Fever (Temperature of 100°F [37.8°C] or greater) or feeling feverish/chills*
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing/Shortness of breath
  • Conjunctivitis (eye tearing, redness, irritation, or discharge from eye)
  • Headaches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Diarrhea

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