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Avian influenza detected at Denver-area animal shelter

The positive case was found after the sudden death of two stray ducklings.

GOLDEN, Colo. — The Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden will not accept any birds for at least 14 days after the highly contagious Avian Influenza virus was found in a stray duckling.

The positive case was discovered after the sudden death of two stray ducklings at the shelter, according to a release. One of them tested positive for the H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus.

The shelter received word of that positive test on May 20 from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

They're now working with the Colorado State Veterinarian and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and are following requirements set out by them following the test result.

RELATED: Yes, a strain of bird flu is spreading in the US but infections in humans are rare

The remaining birds in their care that were exposed to the highly contagious virus were euthanized which is a USDA requirement. That included:

  • Three ducks
  • One chicken
  • One pigeon
  • Three goslings were exposed to the virus and were later euthanized by Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Under guidance from the state veterinarian, the shelter will not accept any birds, including chickens, ducks, geese, or exotic birds, into their care for at least 14 days.

RELATED: Bird flu in Colorado: How you can protect your flocks

"As a Socially Conscious Shelter, Foothills is committed to protecting the people and animals in our community and will continue to follow the guidance of the Colorado State Veterinarian and the Colorado Department of Agriculture following this positive test result," said Foothills Animal Shelter Lead Veterinarian Dr. Claire Vaiden.

"We are saddened by the outcome of this test and appreciate the support of our community during this challenging time."

 According to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, HPAI has a mortality rate of 90%-100% within just a few days, so flock surveillance and disease reporting are critical to containing the spread of the virus.

 "Avian influenza has a high mortality rate and flock owners should actively monitor their birds for clinical signs of HPAI, such as ruffled feathers or swelling and purple discoloration of the comb, wattles, eyelids and legs," said Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Maggie Baldwin.

"Anyone who notices any signs of illness or disease in their flocks should immediately notify the State Veterinarian's office at 303-869-9130."

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