Deadly bird flu closes Popcorn Park Zoo
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture is working to contain multiple outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or bird flu, including an incident that has closed the Popcorn Park Zoo and Animal Refuge.
A dead duck and goose recovered at the refuge by the Associated Humane Societies Popcorn Park staff and were sent for testing. Both came back positive for Avian Influenza.
Officials announced they were closing Popcorn Park through Friday, Oct. 28, to fully sanitize and manage the situation for future exposure.
At the same time, cases of bird flu were found in a flock of birds in Ocean County, and all the birds were euthanized.
Department of Agriculture officials would not reveal the location of the flock, or what types of birds were effected, but says the area was placed on quarantine.
There have been a number of outbreaks of bird flu in the last several months in New Jersey.
A flock of 60 birds were found to be infected in Monmouth County last may. The birds were part of a backyard flock, and were euthanized.
The CDC also reports another outbreak in Warren county earlier this month that involved six backyard birds.
Wild waterfowl often carry the disease and spread it to other bird populations. It remains a significant threat to both wild and domestic flocks.
Outbreaks at turkey farms in many areas of the U.S. have resulted in the euthanization of thousands of birds, and are one of the factors driving up the cost of turkey for this Thanksgiving.
Among turkeys and chickens, infections can kill 90-100% of a flock.
Is there a danger to humans?
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is the common name for the HPAI H5N1 virus. The CDC reports it is a new combination of avian influenza genes never previously seen before.
According to federal health officials, "While no human cases associated with this reassortant virus have been reported, it's possible this virus could infect people and cause serious disease."
There have been known transmissions of other strains of bird flu to humans.
In the past, the CDC has documented mild to severe illness. Infections have ranged from eye infections and upper respiratory illness to at least one case of severe pneumonia that resulted in death.