Asheboro, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo will close its aviary to the public after avian flu was detected in wild birds in eastern North Carolina.
The flu is a highly contagious viral disease that can spread rapidly among domestic, poultry and wild birds, according to the zoo. If allowed to spread, it could have “devastating” effects on poultry farms and birds living in zoos and wildlife centers.
“Closing the Aviary is a preventive, precautionary measure to protect all our bird species at the zoo as the disease can spread very quickly and is often fatal to them,” said Dr. Jb Minter, the zoo’s director of animal health.
According to Minter, only a few confirmed cases have been found in wild birds in North Carolina and South Carolina. None of the Asheboro zoo’s birds appear to be impacted.
The zoo will work with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and the USDA to determine when the exhibit can safely reopen to the public, according to a press release, and the zoo will immediately test any birds that show symptoms, which include sneezing, coughing, lack of energy and poor appetite.
The U.S. has not reported any human infections from the avian flu, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asserts transmission of the virus from birds to humans is very rare. According to the CDC website, the risk to humans is very low.