Outbreaks of avian influenza, commonly known as the bird flu, have reached Maine for the first time ever.

Prior to the outbreaks in Maine, New England's most recent eruption of the bird flu was first identified in New Hampshire's Rockingham Country. Twenty mallards tested positive for the highly pathogenic strain of the bird flu according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game.

It's worth noting that the United States Geological Survey explains that "highly pathogenic" does not refer to how infections or contagious the disease is, but rather how deadly it is.

From Rockingham County in the middle of February, the first outbreak in Maine was recorded about a week later in Knox County, according to WGME.

"The virus is here. We know that," State Veterinarian Dr. Michele Walsh told the news station. "We've detected this virus, confirmed it, in one backyard flock in Knox County."

The second recording of bird flu in Maine could, and should, raise eyebrows and precautions for bird owners across New England.

Just under two miles from the original outbreak site, another flock of backyard birds was positive for this deadly disease, as stated by the Portland Press.

The Portland Press reported that in conjunction with animal health inspectors, the state of Maine has done their due diligence to keep the spread down by monitoring six miles around the second break-out spot and depopulating the immediate area.

According to WGME, Officials in New Hampshire and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says there are no cases of the bird flu affecting humans in the United States; however, they do issue warning to those who home domestic birds, chickens, ducks, and geese.

The safest way to protect your backyard birds from risk of infection is to keep them inside, if possible, and away from wild birds.

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To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet's phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.

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