MILTON – The Blue Hills Trailside Museum has moved all of its bird exhibits indoors due to concerns about cases of the avian flu.
The US Department of Agriculture reported birds infected by a new strain of the flu, called H5N1, in North Carolina and South Carolina as early as January. The first case in New England was reported last month in New Hampshire, and Massachusetts reported its first two cases March 1.
H5N1 is highly contagious among birds, and especially fatal to certain species, the state said.
Mass Audubon Metro South Regional Director Lauren Gordon, who oversees the museum, said it has 27 birds of 16 different species in the exhibit. The birds will be moved into restricted areas where they will be placed into enclosures with at least a covered top.
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H5N1 is spread from bird to bird by both direct and indirect contact. The virus can be spread by feces and respiratory secretions. Indirect contact includes germs lingering on clothing or equipment.
Gordon said the bird keepers at the Trailside Museum sanitize clothes before and after entering the enclosures and wear masks.
“We don’t want to take the risk of our birds getting sick,” she said.
Gordon said other animals, including deer and foxes, will still be outside. The museum will use social media to provide updates regarding the birds while they are in quarantine.
The birds will be in quarantine until at least June, Gordon said, depending on how the virus spreads between now and then.
“We are going to follow the science, making sure the virus is not out there when we put them back outside,” Gordon said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Monday that H5N1 poses a low risk to the public and no human infections have ever been identified in the United States.
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