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Kansas City Zoo moves some birds indoors due to Avian Flu concern

KC zoo avian flu
Posted at 6:31 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 19:31:07-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Concerns over the Avian Influenza, or bird flu, are growing on both sides of the state line in Kansas and Missouri.

Cases of the bird flu have been found in wild birds in Missouri, along with a commercial flock in the southeast part of the state.

The virus, which is deadly to birds, was also confirmed in a backyard flock in Franklin County, Kansas.

Concerns over the spread of the bird flu began in February.

The virus infected a commercial turkey flock in Indiana. The 29,000 turkeys were killed to prevent further spread of the virus.

At the Kansas City Zoo, staff are taking a pro-active approach to prevent birds from being exposed.

KC Zoo CEO Sean Putney, said staff have removed some birds from exhibits that do not provide an outdoor barrier to prevent other birds from coming into contact, like the Trumpeter Swan.

"As this disease develops or it doesn't develop, we will make some changes depending on what we are seeing," Putney said. "This is a very deadly disease to birds, some birds are just carriers of it, but we wanted to make sure that the birds that are within the zoo weren't going to be affected."

It's the right move, according to experts at Kansas State University.

Dr. Juergen Richt, director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases at Kansas State University, said biosecurity, such as limiting contact, is the best way to protect animals.

"Right now, vaccines are not used, there are vaccines against Avian Flu, but they are not used in the United States," Richt said.

Putney said the zoo didn't have to move birds indoors seven years ago when the Avian Flu became concerning because cases weren't as close to Kansas City.

His staff will continue monitoring cases and decide when it's safe to move birds back outdoors.

He said that could potentially be in late spring if the spread calms down.