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Bird Flu Detected In 3 Counties Across Colorado, Denver Zoo Temporarily Closes Bird Exhibits

DENVER (CBS4)- The bird flu, or avian flu, has been detected in three counties across Colorado. The virus is very contagious among birds and it can also spread to humans.

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(credit: CBS)

The birds can become ill when they come into contact with sick birds' saliva. The Denver Zoo has closed its bird exhibits temporarily due to the bird flu.

One Denver Zoo patron, Lucy Christensen said, "We really miss the birds. There are no birds on the other side and we miss the penguins."

Geese and ducks carry the disease which is more accurately called "avian influenza."

Brian Aucone is the senior vice president for life sciences at the Denver Zoo, "Our birds are potentially susceptible to it and can be harmed by it so we've pulled them in."

First detected in geese in Colorado's Sedgewick County, then Morgan County, and now the avian flu has been detected in a mallard duck in Denver.

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Dr. Maggie Baldwin is the state veterinarian.

"Some of the wild birds are being affected by the virus and dying from the virus," she told CBS4.

The state agriculture department is urging bird owners to take precautions. Backyard bird owners and others are being urged to increase biosafety, not to bring in new birds and keep their birds enclosed.

It's wild birds that are spreading the disease. More than 20 million have been killed in the U.S. according to Aucone.

"There's a lot of poultry producers in the central and eastern us you know millions of birds have been put down to prevent the spread of this," said Aucone.

To prevent the spread, the zoo is keeping the birds inside to the dismay of parents who brought their kids, "We're a little bummed out. We were hoping to see the penguins."

Backyard Chickens
Chickens (credit: CBS)

CBS4 did find one bird named Ralph, an emu. It doesn't fly and is less susceptible to the avian flu.

LINKS: Avian Influenza Webinar for Backyard and Exhibition Poultry Producers | U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

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