3 species of mammals infected by avian flu in Colorado

Avian flu's continued spread to mammals has health officials paying close attention. Now the H5N1 strain of the virus has been found in three species of mammals in Colorado: a bear, a mountain lion and a skunk, according to Colorado Public Radio.

"Despite the variety of mammalian species susceptible to HPAI, the numbers of mammal cases are currently low. The majority of cases confirmed during this HPAI outbreak are in wild and domestic birds," a Feb. 9 press release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife reads. "The most commonly affected wild birds in Colorado have been geese, as well as the raptors and other scavenging birds that eat goose carcasses."

Just last month, public health officials in Colorado reported that avian flu is to blame for the slaughtering of 6 million chickens — done to prevent further spread. The virus typically infects mammals after they come into contact with or eat an infected bird. 

No humans in the U.S. have yet become infected with this strain of avian flu. However, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials warn that as cases continue to increase both among wild birds and mammals, keeping distance from any wildlife is best.

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