With COVID-19 spreading all around the region, Central New Yorkers already have enough on their plate in avoiding getting sick this year. Now the United States Department of Agriculture is alerting everyone of something else to be worried about.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed two new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild birds. This highly contagious virus is typically found in aquatic birds, where they will be infected in their respiratory tracts and intestines. The virus can then spread to other birds, potentially killing and sickening domesticated birds like chickens, ducks, and turkeys.

Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Oneida is sending an alert with the USDA, warning families and farmers to protect themselves from exposure. This type of virus doesn't typically infect people, but rare cases have been reported. The virus is shed through saliva, mucous, and feces. Human infection usually happens when the virus gets into a person's eyes, nose, mouth, or lungs. It is even more uncommon for it to transfer from person to person. Proper monitoring is still followed to protect public health.

Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash
Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash

The best way to prevent the spread of avian influenza A is to avoid common sources of exposure. Farmers are recommended to use appropriate personal protective equipment and always their hands. The CDC also recommends anyone dealing with outbreaks to get their flu vaccine every year.

You can learn more information by visiting the CDC's website or by reading the UDSA's release for yourself.

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