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North Carolina Zoo closes aviary after report of avian flu

ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo is closing its aviary habitat to the public as precaution following discovery of avian flu among wild birds in the eastern part of the state, officials said.

[RELATED COVERAGE: USDA issues alert for bird flu strain not seen in 5 years]

A news release says zoo officials will work with the state and federal departments of agriculture to determine when it can safely reopen the aviary habitat. They also will test any of the zoo’s birds that show clinical signs of illness, including sneezing, coughing, lack of energy and poor appetite, the news release said.

As of Tuesday, none of the zoo’s birds are showing any of these signs, the zoo said.

The zoo also has increased security measures, such as restricting teams that work with the zoo’s birds.

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For birds, avian flu is a highly contagious viral disease that can affect several species, including domestic poultry and wild birds. This disease, if spread, could have devastating effects on poultry farms, both commercial and backyard flocks, and birds living in zoos and wildlife centers, the zoo said.

Bird sanctuaries, poultry farms on high alert

The Carolina Raptor Center is not allowing visitors and not accepting any birds at this time.

“We’ve pretty much eliminated our volunteers from coming in for right now, and staff have to have designated clothing and shoes just for work, so we’re not taking stuff home or bringing stuff in,” said Kate Shaner with the center.

>> In the video at the top of this page, Channel 9′s Dave Faherty talks to a state wildlife biologist and area poultry farmers about the precautions they’re taking.

(WATCH BELOW: COVID-19 in zoo and farm animals: What you need to know)

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