Animal health officials warn of avian influenza detection in Massachusetts

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is warning the public of the recent detection of the highly pathogenic avian influenza.

The avian flu, also known as bird flu, was detected in a non-commercial, mixed-species backyard flock in Essex County, according to the MDAR.

Birds on the affected premises died suddenly without exhibiting any other clinical signs consistent with avian flu and the MDAR said samples tested positive for the disease.

“MDAR advises backyard and commercial poultry owners to practice strong biosecurity measures to prevent domestic poultry from having contact with wild birds, their feathers, and droppings,” officials wrote in a news release. “The virus is continuing to circulate in the wild bird population, particularly in wild waterfowl. Eliminating standing water and preventing domestic birds from having access to ponds, streams, and wetland areas that attract wild waterfowl is of critical importance.”

The flock of birds, described as non-poultry, was “depopulated and disposed of,” the MDAR added.

In recent days, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife says it has received reports of dead and dying wild Canada geese in Essex County and the surrounding coastal areas.

MassWildlife confirmed the wild birds showed symptoms consistent with avian flu.

Humans are rarely infected with avian flu viruses, but those who have prolonged close contact with sick or dead birds with infection are at the most risk of becoming ill.

Officials are now urging the public not to handle or feed any birds suspected of being infected, while pet owners should also prevent their dogs from making contact with wild birds.

To report sick or dead birds, call 617-626-1795 or click here to fill out an online form.

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