US NEWS Taking down bird feeders and baths could help stem...

Taking down bird feeders and baths could help stem bird flu outbreak: wildlife experts

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Homeowners can help stop the spread of avian flu by taking down their bird feeders and baths, wildlife experts said this week.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said that the flu, which infects all kinds of birds, including chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese, wild birds and domestic birds, has been confirmed in five counties in that state alone. It has also, over the past few months, been detected in everything from commercial poultry farms in the Midwest to backyard flocks in New York State.

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More than 28 million poultry birds have been killed, and many free-range hens are being brought indoorsThe Associated Press reported on Thursday.

The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota has issued a similar suggestion, and has suspended public tours of its facilities.

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“Due to the current outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center recommends that you take down your bird feeders this spring to slow the spread from bird to bird,” the center tweeted Wednesday.

Homeowners can help stop the spread of avian flu by taking down their bird feeders and baths, wildlife experts said this week. (Shutterstock)

People don’t tend to get sick with avian flu. Though a rare case was registered earlier this year in England, one has to get extremely close with a bird, for prolonged periods, in order for it to be transmitted. Even poultry workers and others who come into direct contact with bird saliva that gets into their mouth or eyes would have a tough time catching it, health officials have said.

For many types of birds, though, it’s a different story. Waterfowl can carry it without symptoms or illness, but domestic chickens and raptors, including eagles, owls and hawks, can “get severely ill and die,” the Raptor Center said. Songbirds have not been studied enough for the effect on them to be known, according to Earthsky.org.

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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza has been detected in commercial and backyard flocks in 29 states, according to the US Department of Agriculture, the first case identified in Indiana on Feb. eight.

As of Thursday, about 31 million birds have been known to be affected from 213 flocks – 143 commercial and 78 backyard – the USDA said.

While taking down the bird feeder would help, it’s not urgent to do so, wildlife experts noted.

“If you’re concerned about this virus and want to act from a place of excessive caution, removing your bird feeders for now makes sense but it isn’t yet a critical step,” state wildlife veterinarian Megan Moriarty told The Associated Press. “With warmer springtime weather on the way, too, birds will have more natural food sources readily available to them, so chances are many people will be taking down feeders in a few weeks anyway.”

With News Wire Services



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