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Highly lethal avian flu kills 200 birds at Chicago forest preserve

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Authorities say more than 200 birds have died at a Chicago-area forest preserve due to an avian flu outbreak.

In a statement on Thursday, the Forest Preserves of Cook County said that the deaths took place at Baker’s Lake forest preserve.

To determine the cause of death, the federal government, which makes the only official declaration of avian influenza incidents, is conducting more testing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) virus is highly contagious among birds and can be fatal in domestic poultry. It, on the other hand, provides a modest risk to humans.

Over the last few months, zoos throughout the country have begun bringing their birds indoors to prevent them from the potentially deadly infection.

According to the Forest Preserves organization, the Baker’s Lake preserve is home to one of the most important heron rookeries in the Midwest.

Many other native and migratory birds also use the area to nest and feed.

“Because of the nature of the local bird population, the avian influenza impact to date has only been observed among waterfowl and water birds,” the organization added.

Following the discovery of multiple dead birds the day before, biologists delivered “seven cormorants for necropsy and testing to state pathologists” on April 7.

The birds were suffering from a putative outbreak of H5 avian influenza, according to lab results.

In recent months, avian flu cases have increased in backyard flocks and wild birds throughout dozens of states.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the flu was initially discovered in a commercial turkey flock in Dubois County, Indiana, in February. This was the first illness case in the United States since 2020.

Image Credit: Getty

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