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Wildlife officials: Avian flu detected in some Florida birds

February 23, 2022 GMT

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A strain of avian influenza has been detected in several species of birds in several Florida counties, wildlife officials said.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed cases of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza strain H5 2.3.4.4 in black vultures, a lesser scaup and other species, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Tuesday in a news release.

There is a low risk of transmission to humans and there have been no known human infections in North America, the agency said.

Wildlife officials are investigating bird deaths in Brevard, Indian River and Volusia counties that are believed to be caused by the strain. It has been documented in the United States since last year and was detected in hunter-harvested blue-winged teal in Palm Beach County in January.

Authorities are urging the public to avoid handling sick or dead wildlife and report any bird mortalities to the wildlife agency so the deaths can be investigated. They also recommend keeping domestic birds away from wild birds.

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In the meantime, state wildlife officials are working closely with the United States Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, University of Florida, National Wildlife Health Center, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, Florida Department of Health, and wildlife rehabilitators to investigate mortality events involving wild birds.