Health officials have found a possible sign that a highly contagious disease could be quickly spreading in Upstate New York.

Avian Flu Forces Turkeys To Be Culled At North Yorkshire Farm
(Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Avian flu cases continue to rise across the United States, resulting in the death of hundreds of millions of birds. The renewed spread of the virus is causing egg and chicken prices to rise, as poultry farms are forced to cull their flocks due to the virus' lethality.

So far this year, New York has reported over 50 instances of avian influenza in wild birds - all of which resulted in death. No positive cases have been reported in Oneida County, but there have been six instances of the virus in Onondaga, two in Herkimer, and one in Lewis County so far in 2024.

Recently, researchers found that cows from 46 different dairy herds were starting to test positive for the virus. In addition, a human contracted the illness.

Read More: Health Officials Raise Alarm after 2nd American Contracts Bird Flu

Luckily, the related cases were mild and those affected made a full recovery. But the same cannot be said for other animal species.

Here in Central New York, wildlife rehabbers found signs avian flu was now spreading among wild foxes, which is largely fatal. The proof of a symptomatic fox kit proved that avian flu has successfully mutated enough to begin infecting mammals - and that is causing concern among health professionals.

Fox in yard in Mohawk Valley. (Photo by Bill Keeler / WIBX)
(Photo by Bill Keeler / WIBX)

While human-related avian flu cases in the United States have been mild, the same cannot be said for the rest of the world.  The World Health Organization said roughly 800 people have died from avian influenza since 2013.

That is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is closely monitoring avian flu here in the United States and have since launched a new tool to track its potential spread.

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Similarly to how they tracked the spread of COVID-19, the CDC is now sampling wastewater across the U.S. to test for traces of avian influenza.

As of the week of May 11, 2024, New York had two areas that logged elevated traces of avian influenza - in Thompkins and in Oswego County. Thompkins showed a "low" showing of the virus in its wastewater while Oswego was listed as "above average."

But before anyone panics, the CDC explained:

This means that avian influenza A(H5N1) viruses are detected but cannot be distinguished from other influenza A virus subtypes. Wastewater data also cannot determine the source of the influenza A virus. It could come from a human or from an animal (like a bird) or an animal product (like milk from an infected cow).

Meaning, this isn't a canary in the coal mine moment - but the situation is being monitored and plans are probably being developed just in case.

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Ritesh Shukla/Getty Images

Currently, of the humans who tested positive for avian influenza, they struggled through relatively mild symptoms such as watery eyes, fatigue, fever, and aches. No one has been hospitalized for the illness as of yet.

Daniel Goldhill, an evolutionary virologist at the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, UK, told Nature, "There’s always a worry that viruses will surprise us. We don’t know what they’ll do next."

That said, those who are feeling unwell are strongly encouraged to stay home and wear a mask should they have to go anywhere.

See the Miracle Twin Foals Born in Central New York

Gallery Credit: Megan

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The 10 Worst Places To Live In New York State

While New York is certainly home to a plethora of hidden gems and breathtaking sights, Road Snacks has highlighted the state's most undesirable spots.

As for what determines what makes a city or town one of the "worst" places to live, Road Snacks compared 163 cities with 5,000 or more residents, to find those with the lowest median home value, weakest school districts, and highest rates of unemployment and crime. In short, the survey ranked cities and towns based off their economic performance and opportunity for growth, which Road Snacks says impacts the quality of life of its residents.

In the end, these 10 cities were deemed to be the worst New York State has to offer. That said, the company is not calling these cities bad - so if you have an issue, take it up with Road Snacks. We're just reporting their findings.

Gallery Credit: Megan