What Does the Bird Flu in Utah Mean to Me?

KUTV News

At Wasatch Community Gardens in Salt Lake City Mike Lynch is raising a different kind of crop: chickens.

"They're funny," he says. "They're real weird. They kind of follow everybody so I really like it."

The birds have also become a favorite for school and camp groups that visit the gardens. Naturally they don't want them to get sick which is why news that the bird flu is in Utah concerns Mike.

"We're just making sure that we have all of our bases covered to protect the birds," he said.

Larry Lewis with the Utah Department of Agriculture says Mike is right to be concerned. Utah's only seen three confirmed cases this year but that's a lot for a state that doesn't always get any.

"We are concerned that there might be more," he said. "Where there are three there are probably a lot more than three."

The bird flu, or Avian Influenza as it's officially called, spreads through bird droppings. If you have backyard chickens the best way to keep them safe is to keep them away from other birds.

"Have secure chicken coops, good fences and just be on the lookout for any wild bird that may come into your backyard," Lewis says.

When a bird contracts the disease they get sick and die. Lewis says the disease really doesn't spread as an illness to humans even if someone eats a tainted bird's meat.

But it can be economically devastating.

"I think you've seen the headlines in the Midwest and the South. Millions of birds had to be depopulated in a short period of time. We're trying to prevent that from happening here in Utah," Lewis said.

With the weather changing and birds migrating now is the really dangerous time for the disease spreading. If you see a duck or chicken that looks sick you are encouraged to call your local animal control.

Watch the video here for the full story.