According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, six wild ducks found dead in Winthrop’s Mill Stre am have tested positive for avian influenza, also known as bird flu. The hooded mergansers were confirmed to have been infected with a highly pathogenic strain of the disease by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Iowa.
The department noted that the bird flu strain found in the ducks is highly contagious and can easily spread and mutate among both wild and domestic flocks of birds. Although the disease is rare in humans, it does pose a threat to poultry operations. The bird flu has been detected in birds from all New England states, both wild and domestic.
The Maine wildlife department advises residents who keep domestic birds to keep them separate from wild birds and to be cautious about avoiding contact with bird waste on their clothing or boots. They also recommend thoroughly sanitizing after any such encounter.
The hooded merganser is a small diving duck that is a favorite among bird-watching enthusiasts.