KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Experts across the U.S. said a strain of avian flu was spreading among some flocks of poultry. They said it was contagious and deadly, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it was most recently detected in Tennessee by a hunter in Dyer County on March 21.
According to health leaders, the strain of avian flu could potentially spread to humans, but it is highly unlikely. They said infections only occur when people are in close contact with sick birds, and it's rare for the illness to spread from person to person.
While it's not likely for people to get sick, the virus can be deadly to birds. Zoo Knoxville is taking steps to protect its animals from avian flu.
Leaders with the zoo said if a case is detected within 50 miles, they will start bringing birds inside whenever possible. They will also cover any outdoor enclosures, minimizing the risk of birds in the zoo being exposed to wild birds.
They also said they would remove features like ponds and birdfeeders to discourage attracting wild birds. They said they are also keeping a close eye on the health of their birds.
The zoo takes care of white-naped cranes, southern ground hornbills and many other kinds of birds. Some of them are under a "vulnerable" conservation status, which means they are under threat of extinction unless circumstances threatening them improve.
The zoo also takes care of Einstein, an intelligent African Grey parrot known for his extensive vocabulary of more than 200 words and sounds. The species is notorious for having advanced cognitive skills and imitating sounds.