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The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), confirmed cases of bird flu among wild black vultures in Montgomery County.

Eurasian H5 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), or bird flu, can cause high mortality in infected poultry, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). To prevent an outbreak, chickens and turkeys sometimes have to be selectively slaughtered.

A publicly reported die-off of black vultures prompted officials to test the birds for the disease. A die-off is when large quantities of a population of a particular species die unexpectedly of seemingly natural causes within a short time.

According to the ADCNR, this is the second confirmation of the bird flu in Alabama. Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) state veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier said his agency is partnering with the ADCNR to respond to the disease.

Frazier said poultry owners should report sick birds to the state and “maintain strict biosecurity.”

The risk presented by H5 HPAI to humans is low. As of November, no humans have been infected with HPAI in the United States. Nevertheless, humans in other countries have been infected with similar viruses.

The ADCNR suggests avoiding contact with dead or dying birds and washing hands after contact with any bird, including domestic poultry. Hunters should practice good hygiene while handling wild birds. 

A chicken or turkey infected with HPAI might experience sudden death, lack of energy, lack of appetite, lack of coordination, purple discoloration or swelling, diarrhea, nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing and reduced or malformed egg production.

You can report dead or dying birds to the ADCNR for testing by calling 334-242-3469.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email will.blakely@1819news.com or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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