Indiana Zoo Implement Protective Measures Against H5N1 Avian Flu Virus for Captive Birds
Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden, located in Evansville, Indiana, is taking precautionary measures after they say that cases of H5N1 Avian Flu Virus were discovered in what zoo officials describe as "uncomfortable proximity."
What Is H5N1 Avian Flu and Are Humans at Risk?
H5N1 Avian Flu, according to the CDC is a type of Influenza A virus that poses little threat to humans but it is leaving a trail of death in its wake as it makes its way through not only wild birds but also captive-raised poultry like chickens and turkeys.
Based on available epidemiologic and virologic information about these viruses, CDC believes that the risk to the general public’s health from current H5N1 bird flu viruses is low, however some people may have job-related or recreational exposures to birds that put them at higher risk of infection. CDC is watching this situation closely and taking routine preparedness and prevention measures in case this virus changes to pose a greater human health risk.
More Than Migratory Birds
According to Science.org, the virus has caused farmers to have to kill off almost 33 million chickens and turkeys in hopes of staying ahead of the virus and preserving the remaining flocks. They also say that the virus has infected at least 51 documented species of birds and is spreading primarily through waterfowl and birds of prey.
Just two songbird species have tested positive: blue jays and crows. At greater risk are water birds, especially those that form dense nesting colonies, and birds that prey on them. Bald eagles often hunt ducks and geese, and some have apparently infected their young by feeding them virus-laden prey.
...To date, 48 eagles have tested positive and died
Mesker Zoo Taking Action
In an effort to protect the captive birds being cared for at Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden, all of the birds in their care have been moved into indoor enclosures to minimize exposure to wild birds. In addition to bringing the birds indoors, the free-flight area within Mesker Zoo's Amazonia exhibit will also be closed.
Our birds will be given excellent care in these indoor locations by our zookeepers until the risk of this disease subsides. At a minimum it will be 4 weeks away but could be longer based on the presence of active cases in the area.
All Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden Staff are being asked to take additional measures to protect our birds, including but limited to, using dedicated footwear and tools as well as extra sanitation efforts across the board in our bird's spaces.
We appreciate our community's support and understanding as we take these proactive measures to ensure our flock's safety and longevity at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden.
They say the public can contribute to the health and well-being of the birds in their care by taking down any birdfeeders that they may have at home, as those can be linked to the spread of the virus in wild birds. Read Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden's full statement in their Facebook post below.
5 Reasons to Visit Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Indiana