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A highly infectious and deadly influenza poses a threat to the region's bird populations

Three ducks in a pond.
Lydell Rawls
WFSU Public Media
Three ducks in a pond.

A second wild duck in the Tallahassee area has now tested positive for a very infectious virus called Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza or HPAI. That comes after a similar injured bird in Gadsden County was found to have the disease. Sandy Beck is with St. Francis Wildlife.

"We received a Lesser Scaup Duck that was found on Georgia Street in downtown Tallahassee."

Beck was quick to emphasize the virus poses no threat to people.

"There have been no known human infections in North America. Songbirds are also generally at lower risk for this virus, but they can still carry it or transmit it."

She stressed the highly fatal affliction is most common among wild waterfowl, such as ducks, geese, swans and seagulls. But it also aggressively infects raptors and scavenger birds. She had this advice for those with pet birds and farm fowl.

"Keeping birds indoors or in sheltered enclosures if HPAI is identified in your area."

Beck said bird feeders and birdbaths should be cleaned weekly with a mild (10%) bleach solution to reduce the risk of songbird infection. She also urged that farm birds like chickens and turkeys be confined to covered coops and said St. Francis Wildlife can no longer accept injured, orphaned or abandoned wild birds of any kind while the disease is in the area.

And to prevent the spread of HPAI, the organization advises area residents to not handle a sick or dead bird, keep pets away and report it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission immediately so it can be tested for HPAI. Call FWC Dispatch: 850-245-7716 or FWC 24 Hour hotline: 888-404-3922.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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