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Avian flu continues to spread among wild birds, poultry flocks in Montana

Canada geese are pictured on March 21, 2013 in Eltville, Germany. A dead Canada goose injured Robert Meilhammer in Easton, Md., when it was shot and fell from the sky.

Montana is investigating cases of the bird flu in poultry and wild birds as more cases pop up around the state.

The avian flu was was first detected in Montana earlier this month. Department of Livestock State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski says the state has so far detected positive cases of the avian flu in two small backyard poultry flocks and two commercial operations.

"We continue to receive interest phone calls from veterinarians, from poultry owners regarding ... symptoms and concerns," he told reporters on Friday.

The USDA says more than 76,000 birds have been affected by the flu in Montana.

The state says it’s also identified positive cases in three geese in Canyon Ferry, Belgrade and Freezeout Lake, with more tests pending.

While some wild birds may carry the avian flu without symptoms, the disease is fatal to other birds, including poultry. The avian flu is easily communicated from bird to bird through excretions like fecal matter and saliva.

To protect against spreading the flu, the state suggests people take down bird feeders and avoid entering areas with birds, like chicken coops.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.