Bird Flu Concerns Golf Industry

Recent news of the avian flu and its potential to spread to humans has prompted questions in the golf industry about the whether golfers and course workers are at risk from the migratory birds often found on golf courses.

The Influenza A (H5N1) virus – also called “H5N1 virus” – occurs mainly in birds, is highly contagious among birds, and can kill them. On golf courses, geese and ducks would be the most likely carriers.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control, report that although the virus does not usually infect people, more than 100 human cases have been reported – none in the United States.

Most of the cases were caused by contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces (through feces, mucous and saliva of the fowl). A few cases of human-to-human spread of H5N1 virus have occurred. USDA and CDC officials also said:

- They don't think golf course workers and golfers are at an elevated risk.

- Both golfers and workers should wash their hands after activities that bring them in contact with contaminated surfaces, animals, chemicals, etc. (This should be communicated on a daily basis, regardless of the concern over avian flu.)

- State and local health guidelines should be followed in the discarding of dead birds from facilities.

- Where permitted fowl reduction program are being conducted, appropriate guidelines should be followed, with consideration given to wearing breathing masks, gloves, etc.

For more from the USDA, CDC and OSHA on the flu, visit: