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Bird flu is prevalent among wild and domestic birds in Mass., officials say

A hooded merganser duck floated on Upper Mystic Lake in Arlington in 2016.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Bird flu has been detected in multiple areas of Massachusetts, where state agriculture officials said it is “generally present . . . in the wild bird population,” according to a notice posted on Facebook Thursday.

The highest prevalence appears to be among waterfowl and shorebirds, especially “dabbling ducks” such as mallards, officials said.

The emergence of the flu, formally known as the highly pathogenic avian influenza, has prompted the state Department of Agricultural Resources to caution poultry farmers to keep wildfowl away from their flocks.

Contaminated shoes, clothing, and equipment can also expose domestic birds to the virus, the department said. Bird flu is highly contagious and is often fatal for chickens, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

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The virus has been found in birds down the East Coast from Canada to Florida, affecting Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and other states, according to a separate statement Wednesday from state officials.

Anyone finding sick or dead birds can report wild birds to 508-389-6300 and domestic birds to 617-626-1795.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.