Bald eagles around the U.S. are contracting the bird flu

This Jan. 5, 2020, photo shows a bald eagle in Philadelphia.
This Jan. 5, 2020, photo shows a bald eagle in Philadelphia.
Chris Szagola/AP

Updated: 9:55 a.m.

As the avian flu rips through the United States, birds across the country are contracting the fatal disease, including bald eagles.

At least three bald eagles who contracted bird flu are dead, Georgia's Department of Natural Resources said Thursday. The highly pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in more than 25 states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.

In Georgia, 11 wild birds have tested positive for bird flu, including the bald eagles.

Meanwhile, bald eagles in other states have also contracted the flu.

Last week, avian flu was detected in bald eagles in Maine and Vermont. Bald eagles in Ohio and South Dakota — among other states — have also contracted the flu. More than 20 million birds have been wiped out in the worst outbreak since 2015, which has left more than 50 million birds dead.

Some of the birds have died from the disease, but the vast majority are being culled to stop the spread of the deadly disease. More than 13 million birds have been culled in Iowa alone.

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The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota says it has been taking in one to three birds of various species a day stricken with avian flu, with many severely ill and suffering from seizures.

Executive director Victoria Hall told MPR News that the staff has never seen this much transmission during an avian flu outbreak, and urges people to take extra measures to protect songbirds and other bird species by not filling their backyard bird feeders for awhile.

“They should be able to find other food sources at this time of year. And it's important to remember that this is not going to last forever,” Hall said. “Hopefully by June-ish when the weather starts warming up and birds start dispersing a bit, we'll see these numbers go way down.”

Hall says people should also stop using birdbaths so birds will not be encouraged to gather together.

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