Blank Park Zoo ramps up protocols to prevent spread of avian flu
When Ryan Bickel heads to work at Blank Park Zoo, he can't park near the office.
- He has to bring his own pair of clean shoes, and there are foot baths all around for workers like him to wash their feet.
- "We went through COVID. ... We did two years of that and then without taking a breath ... we're doing all this to protect the birds from avian flu," Bickel, the zoo's chief marketing officer, tells Axios.
Driving the news: Avian influenza is taking the nation by storm, but it's particularly a problem in Iowa, the country's top egg producer.
- More than eight million birds have been euthanized in the state to curb its spread since the flu was first confirmed in Iowa on March 1, — nearly 50% of the nation's total killed birds.
Between the lines: While the majority of the infected flocks come from farm or backyard operations, that doesn't mean Toucan Sam is safe either.
- The flu is spreading primarily from migrating birds via their droppings, meaning every shoe is a potential spreader.
- It's why bird handlers at the zoo are now wearing hazmat suits and the birds themselves are in different buildings, a sort of "social distancing" in case avian influenza does arrive.
As for the general public, everything will seem normal to them except the lack of bird exhibits, Bickel said.
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