Bird flu infects a dozen mammals as outbreak in Montana continues (copy)

Isabel Hicks Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Officials are warning Montanans to keep themselves and their pets away from dead birds, as a bird flu outbreak now in its second year starts to infect more mammals.

In Montana, close to 82,500 domestic birds have been culled from the ongoing outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, since the state saw its first case in a poultry flock last April.

But on top of the losses for farm-raised birds, the outbreak has also taken a harder toll on wild birds than in years past. That’s led at least 12 mammals in Montana to succumb to the disease, which experts say they likely got from eating infected wild birds.

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It’s meant a busy year for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and the state’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, which are sampling and testing animals to see how the H5N1 strain has spread across species.

According to lab data as of March 31, employees have confirmed one black bear, two grizzly bears, two raccoons, one red fox, and six striped skunks as “non-negative” for bird flu. The samples are then sent to a national lab

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