What to Know About Bird Flu as Cases in Wild Birds Are Detected in States Across US

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The Centers for Disease Control said it is rare for people to contract the H5N1 bird flu virus.

Cases of bird flu have been reported in several states across the U.S., including DelawareMaine, and Florida, but the cases pose a low risk to the public, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In Delaware, the Eurasian H5 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was discovered in eight wild ducks, specifically five northern shovelers, one American wigeon, one black duck and on gadwall, as well as a Canada goose in Kent County, and a red-shouldered hawk in New Castle County, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Delaware Online reported.

On Wednesday, Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, announced a second case of the avian flu among a small flock of birds in Knox County. The first case was detected on Sunday, The Hill reported. 

In order to prevent the disease from spreading, commercial and backyard operators were told to keep birds inside, the news outlet reported.

Bird flu has also been detected in wild birds in eight other states that make up the Atlantic Flyway, a bird migration pattern that runs along the East Coast of North America, through the U.S., and into Canada, Delaware Online reported.

Wild birds in Brevard, Indian River, and Volusia counties in South Florida may have died as a result of bird flu, health officials announced on Tuesday.

Since the recent outbreaks, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has expanded its wild bird surveillance, Food Safety News reported

According to the APHIS, the first discovery of bird flu was Jan. 14 when wild American wigeon carrying the Eurasian H5 strain was found n South Carolina, Food and Safety News reported.

On Feb. 9, nearly 30,000 turkeys were euthanized on a commercial farm in Dubois County, Indiana, farm after testing positive for H5N1, according to the the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH), according to previous news reports

On Feb. 14, a flock of commercial broiler chickens in Fulton County, Kentucky, and a backyard flock of mixed-species birds in Fauquier County, Virginia were also reported to have the flu, health officials announced earlier this month. 

On Feb. 19, a non-commercial backyard flock was detected to have the flu in Suffolk County, New York, a report said. 

“Collecting surveillance sampling in all four Flyways will assist efforts to understand the presence of variants of concern better and help us monitor the movement of avian influenza strains along migratory pathways,” an APHIS statement said.

The Centers for Disease Control said it is rare for people to contract the H5N1 bird flu virus. However, those who may be at greater risk of exposure of infected birds are poultry workers. Other groups include hunters, poultry producers, those who handle bird flu outbreaks, and health care providers.

“Avian influenza A viruses do not normally infect people, but sporadic infections in people have occurred with some avian influenza A viruses. Illnesses in humans from avian influenza A virus infections have ranged in severity from no symptoms or mild illness to severe disease that resulted in death,” the CDC said in a statement

Bird flu, also called avian influenza, is a respiratory disease caused by birds that are infected with the influenza Type A virus. This virus can infect domestic poultry, including chickens, ducks, quail, pheasants, guinea fowl, and turkeys, as well as wild animals including ducks, geese, swans, hawks, owls, and shorebirds. 

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