Lehigh Valley Zoo
February 25, 2022
AZA ZOOS ALONG THE EAST COAST BRACE FOR CONTAGIOUS HIGHLY PATHOGENIC AVIAN INFLUENZA (HPAI)AFFECTING BIRDS FROM SOUTH CAROLINA TO MAINE
(Schnecksville, PA) – This week, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the U.S., along the North American Atlantic flyway. With confirmed cases in South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Kentucky, Indiana, New York and Maine, identified in commercial and non-commercial flocks, HPAI is highly contagious among wild and domestic birds, causing extreme illness and or possibly death.
As a result of the highly transmissible nature of HPAI, Zoos along the east coast have started to implement enhanced safety precautions to protect the birds in their care. Working together to share timely and critical information, animal care teams at Lehigh Valley Zoo, Adventure Aquarium, Philadelphia, Elmwood Park, Brandywine, Erie , Maryland and Pittsburgh Zoos — supported by the USDA and APHIS — have elected to move the most susceptible species indoors to eliminate contact with wild birds on zoo grounds. Other precautions taken include higher levels of biosecurity for birds, personal protective equipment for staff; and restricted access to bird areas.
“The LV Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and proudly demonstrates how we are upholding some of the highest standards in the field,” Curator Maggie Morse said. “This is evident by our quick response to protect our resident birds from HPAI by working with other local AZA Zoos, our on-staff veterinarians and our animal care team. Our most at-risk species have been moved off exhibit and will be monitored by our dedicated staff. We will continue to keep a close eye on positive cases of HPAI ensuring we continue to provide excellent care to our Zoo residents.”
LV Zoo’s on-site veterinarians have started implementing an established protocol that was created to mitigate and keep our animals safe from outbreaks such as HPAI. At this time, due to the proximity of positive cases, barnyard birds, waterfowl and penguins have been brought inside since they are most at risk. Should cases be reported closer to the Lehigh Valley, the staff is prepared to act quickly to safely move the rest of our birds off exhibit.
Committed to protecting the birds in their care, the Zoos listed above will continue to work closely with each other, the USDA, the State Veterinary Medical Officer, APHIS and the Department of Public Health to stay current and abreast of any new updates. With many strains of the same virus, experts are still working to estimate how long this virus can affect birds in the U.S.
Symptoms of HPAI in birds include sneezing, coughing, walking or swimming in circles, and swelling of the legs and feet. Although wild waterfowl are the most common carriers, they are often asymptomatic while birds of prey, such as hawks and owls, and scavengers, such as crows and gulls, may show more severe infection. Other animals susceptible, include carnivores, non-human primates, and pigs with possible infection occurring after the animal consumes an infected bird or consumes food that has been contaminated an infected bird. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections in birds do not present an immediate public health concern, with no human cases detected in the U.S.
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As a member-supported non-profit organization, Lehigh Valley Zoological Society was founded in 2004, but it has been treasured community landmark for centuries. Located in the Lehigh Valley’s Trexler Game Preserve, we have educated and entertained more than five million people. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Lehigh Valley Zoo hosts year-round, family-friendly events and activities, educational programs, and camps. Through a mission to create a safe, engaging and enlightening wildlife experience for guests of all ages, the Zoo demonstrates leadership in the cultural, scientific and conservation communities. To learn more about Lehigh Valley Zoo, we invite you to visit our website, www.lvzoo.org, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.