The Montana Department of Livestock is asking county fairs and animal shows across the state not to allow water fowl in the coming months.

Avian influenza, also called bird flu has already killed birds in two Montana counties this year. State Veterinarian Dr. Edward Liska said that water fowl are particularly dangerous because they don’t show symptoms when they get the flu.

"We're advising fair boards basically to not show water fowl at poultry exhibits this summer," Liska said. "The reason is because of a recent outbreak, it's a national outbreak, of highly pathogenic avian influenza."

So far, the Centers for Disease Control have detected three strains of avian influenza in the United States, none of which have shown signs of transferring to humans.

"When it comes to turkeys, chickens and other domestic poultry, they tend to show clinical signs and actually, most of the time, are dead within 24 to 48 hours," Liska said. "It's highly unlikely that a sick bird will even make it to a fair exhibit, and if they are at the fair, they will show obvious clinical signs, and generally be removed."

Liska said over 40 million birds have been affected since December 2014 in the United States alone.

For more information, contact the Department of Livestock at (406) 444-2043.

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