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Highly contagious bird flu found in 2 Idaho chicken flocks

April 15, 2022 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A highly contagious form of avian influenza has been found in two Idaho chicken flocks, prompting state agriculture officials to warn bird owners to take extra protections when interacting with their flocks.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture announced Friday that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, commonly called bird flu, was detected in the domestic flocks located roughly 200 miles apart in Gooding and Caribou counties.

The virus, which can be transmitted by migrating birds, has been spreading across the U.S. since February, putting poultry farms and zoos on high alert. Wyoming, Colorado and Montana were among the states that reported new cases this month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s bird flu tracking website.

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Cooking meat and eggs to proper temperatures kills the virus, according to health experts. Humans can catch bird flu but such cases are rare, the ISDA said in a prepared statement, and usually result in symptoms like pink eye, fever or diarrhea.

The disease is often fatal to chickens, and other domestic birds.

“It is essential for poultry owners to be vigilant in monitoring for illness,” the IDSA wrote in a press release. Owners should immediately contact the state veterinarian if bird flu symptoms, like decreased appetite, difficulty breathing or unexplained death occurs appears in a flock.

Owners should have dedicated clothing and tools for interacting with each flock, and practice good hygiene like washing hands before and after handling birds, the state agency said.