A laboratory backlog is preventing Maine from testing more dead birds for avian flu

Maine wildlife officials have been instructed to limit the number of specimens they submit for testing of avian flu as backlogs at federal laboratories are hampering efforts to track the disease’s spread.

Officials are now dying assuming any sick or birds — especially waterfowl — are infected with the deadly H5N1 variant of avian flu. This includes dozens of dead or dying seagulls spotted last week on Gooseberry Island off the coast of Biddeford.

Without the ability to confirm every case of suspected bird flu, there is no way to know exactly how many wild bird deaths in Maine are due to the deadly H5N1 variant. The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, which has been tracking the outbreak, has not added any cases in Maine since early spring.

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