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Delaware and Michigan are the latest states to report cases of the highly pathogenic avian influenza, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed. The virus, also known as the bird flu, does not pose an immediate threat to the public, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cases were confirmed in a commercial poultry flock in New Castle County, Delaware, and in a non-commercial backyard flock in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. Officials in both states have quarantined the affected premises. The birds will be “depopulated” in order to prevent the disease from spreading, and they will not enter the food system, the USDA said.
The department’s inspection service is working with Delaware and Michigan animal health officials.
According to the CDC, birds can catch 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.
Although human cases of avian viruses are rare, some have been reported, the CDC said. Humans can become infected when enough of the virus gets into their eyes, nose or mouth. Humans cannot get the disease from poultry or eggs that are properly handled and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the USDA said. Once a person is infected, symptoms range from conjunctivitis, fever, diarrhea and vomiting to severe respiratory illness and neurological changes, the CDC said.
Over the past decade, the bird flu has become more common and spread to more places across the world, the CDC said. Since the start of 2022, multiple states, including Maine, New York, Virginia and South Carolina, have detected the virus. In Indiana, more than 150,000 birds have been affected by the virus, according to the Indiana Board of Animal Health.
Prior to the 2022 outbreak, the last time a case was reported in the U.S. was in 2016, according to the CDC.
Despite the national outbreak, the CDC said it is still safe to eat “properly handled and cooked poultry.” No human cases have been detected in the U.S.
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