As humans continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, birds are dealing with an illness of their own.
Fox News reports that an avian influenza outbreak has killed millions of birds.
According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an avian influenza outbreak has claimed the lives of almost 24 million poultry birds. This includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, and the like, both in commercial and domestic settings.
The bird flu has, accordingly, been deemed by the agency to be “highly pathogenic.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has explained that the avian flu is like a respiratory illness in that it spreads by way of “saliva, nasal secretions, and feces.”
Not all cases of avian flu lead to the death of the animal. But, as the numbers show, many do.
The CDC also explains that it is rare for a human to be infected by the avian flu, although it is possible. So far, there have been four confirmed cases of humans contracting the avian flu from birds. But, there have been no cases of a human spreading the avian flu to another human.
Among others, American zoos are particularly worried about the spread of avian influenza. Many are taking measures to try to protect the birds that are in their care.
One of the measures that the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio is taking, for example, is closing some of its bird exhibits.
In a statement, the zoo said, “out of an abundance of caution for some of the Zoo birds in our care, we have temporarily closed some bird habitats while we proactively monitor and evaluate the situation.”
Many zoos are also taking measures to keep their birds from coming into contact with wild birds that may already be infected with avian influenza. Some have even relocated their bird population to holding facilities where they have more control over the situation. This, for example, is taking place at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois.
The humans caring for these birds are also wearing personal protective equipment at this time to prevent any potential cross-species transmission of not only the bird flu both other illnesses as well.