UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — The most recent outbreak of avian influenza, or bird flu, is entering its second year and businesses across country are still being affected.

“This is far more widespread infection or outbreak than we have ever experienced before,” said Suresh Kuchipudi, Director of the Penn State Animal Diagnostic Laboratory.

Kuchipudi said this latest outbreak of avian influenza is unprecedented. According to the CDC, more than 58-million birds have died from the flu since early 2022.

Kuchipudi said the virus can affect a wide range of mammals, with many getting sick after eating dead birds that are already infected.

“For this particular virus, there is no vaccine or cure, so the only method or weapon we have is the prevention,” Kuchipudi said.

At the lab, researchers’ primary role is to carry out laboratory testing for the virus. They also provide poultry distributors and farmers with tools to safely keep their operations running during an outbreak.

Kuchipudi said it’s important for businesses to start by having biosecurity measures to separate their farms from wild birds. This is to prevent the virus from getting to the animals in the first place.

“It is always important to avoid direct contact with sick birds and let the trained, experienced professionals appropriately handle the birds because they’re trained to handle them in a much more safer way,” Kuchipudi said.

He also said if you see a deceased bird or animal that may be infected, it’s important to alert officials who can help.

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“The most important aspect is to let the appropriate authorities know, in this instance, the Department of Agriculture as soon as possible so we do not waste any valuable time in preventing the further spread,” Kuchipudi said.