Birmingham Zoo closes aviary after bacteria found in bird

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Birmingham Zoo has temporarily closed a bird aviary after tests found a bacterial infection that can cause respiratory problems in birds and humans, zoo officials said.

The zoo's lorikeet aviary will be closed as the veterinary staff pursues further testing of the birds, authorities said.

The bacteria that led to the closure is called chlamydophila, often called psittacosis, zoo officials said in a statement. Officials said it can be passed from birds to people, results in flu-like symptoms and can be treated with antibiotics.

So far, zoo officials said, no bird keepers or other employees have presented any symptoms.

The aviary was closed after one of the lorikeets in the exhibit presented symptoms and tested positive for the bacteria, zoo officials said.

"We routinely conduct health exams on the zoo's animals so that we can be as proactive as possible about detecting the presence of disease among the zoo's animals," Dr. Stephanie McCain, the zoo's lead veterinarian, said in the statement.

"The veterinary staff is taking all measures to ensure the safety and health of the lorikeet collection and will continue to monitor any circumstances that may affect the zoo's animal collection or the guests," McCain added.

Fewer than 50 confirmed cases of the bacteria in humans are reported in the U.S. each year, the zoo said. Waterfowl, herons and pigeons are the most commonly infected wild birds in North America.

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