Delaware and Michigan have joined the growing list of U.S. states confirming outbreaks of a highly pathogenic avian influenza, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Friday.
The virus, also known as the bird flu, does not pose an immediate threat to the public, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the USDA, regulators have detected cases of the highly lethal strain in a commercial poultry flock in New Castle County, Delaware, as well as in a non-commercial backyard flock in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, CBS News reported.
The birds will be “depopulated” in order to prevent the disease from spreading, and they will not enter the food system, the agency stated.
The outbreak at the commercial operation in Delaware has affected 1.2 million birds, Reuters reported, bringing the total number of U.S. poultry birds affected by the virus to more than 1.6 million in the past two weeks.
According to the CDC, birds contract 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, CBS News reported.
Although human cases of avian virus are rare, the CDC confirmed that the overlap does occur on rare occasions when enough of the virus gets into an individual’s eyes, nose or mouth. Humans cannot, however, contract the disease from poultry or eggs are that are properly handled and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the USDA said.
Once a person is infected, symptoms may range from conjunctivitis, fever, diarrhea and vomiting to severe respiratory illness and neurological changes, the CDC stated.
Since the start of 2022, multiple states - including the Carolinas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, New York and Virginia - have detected avian flu outbreaks.
Wild birds are thought to have carried the virus to North America. It was already widespread in Europe and affecting poultry in Asia and Africa, Reuters reported.
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