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Influenza outbreak may be cause of increased seabird deaths along Mass. coastline

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CBS News Boston Live

BOSTON - Massachusetts environmental and health officials said Wednesday there has been "a substantial uptick" in dead seabirds found along the coastline over the last week, and they believe the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) may be the cause.

The disease rarely affects humans, but state officials are asking the public to not touch or remove birds from coastal areas that are sick, injured, or dead. Over the last couple months, HPAI has been found in domestic and wild birds from Canada to Florida.

Some of the birds impacted include seagulls, ducks, terns, and cormorants.

"Avian Influenza rarely infects humans," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown. "Although the risk is low, direct contact with infected birds or heavily contaminated environments can sometimes spread the disease to people. People are urged not to handle or feed any birds suspected of being infected."  

Both wild and domesticated birds can become infected with HPAI. If someone finds an ailing wild bird, they are asked to make a report at mass.gov/reportbirds.

You can find more information on the disease here.  

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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