Bird flu outbreaks detected in Kansas, Illinois flocks

Kansas and Illinois have joined the growing list of U.S. states confirming outbreaks of a highly pathogenic avian influenza, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Friday.

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The virus, also known as the bird flu, does not pose an immediate threat to the public, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has detected the virus in a backyard mixed species poultry flock in Franklin County, Kansas, as well as in a non-commercial, non-poultry backyard flock in McLean County, Illinois.

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The inspection service stated in a news release that it is working closely with state animal health officials in both states to develop joint incident responses.

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Meanwhile, state officials quarantined the affected locales, and birds on the properties will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease, the agency stated, noting that the birds from the affected flocks will not enter the food system.

“Producers and owners should review their biosecurity plans and prevent contact with wild birds and their droppings,” State Veterinarian Dr. Mark Ernst, with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, told WMBD.

“IDOA also strongly encourages all producers to keep birds indoors when possible,” he added.

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According to the CDC, birds contract the flu when they come into contact with the “saliva, nasal secretions or feces” of an infected bird. The flu is considered to be “very contagious among birds” and has the potential to kill certain domesticated species like chickens and turkeys, CBS News reported.

Although human cases of avian virus are rare, the CDC confirmed that the overlap does occur on rare occasions when enough of the virus gets into an individual’s eyes, nose or mouth. Humans cannot, however, contract the disease from poultry or eggs that are properly handled and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the USDA said.

Since the start of 2022, the inspection service has confirmed avian flu flock outbreaks in the Carolinas, Delaware, Michigan, New York, Maine, Kentucky, Virginia, Indiana, Kansas and Illinois.

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Wild birds are thought to have carried the virus to North America. It was already widespread in Europe and affecting poultry in Asia and Africa, Reuters reported.