Hundreds of dead birds have washed up on Martha's Vineyard and animal control officials there think a highly contagious strain of avian flu may be responsible.
The Tisbury Animal Control posted an "avian influenza warning" on social media Monday, telling residents that hundreds of dead cormorants have washed up all over the island and it's "extremely dangerous" for a small island.
Animal control officers collected the birds and sent many to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for testing.
The animal control office said the new strain could become a major issue that may take years to recover from.
The office warned residents not to touch the birds. It asked them to keep their dogs on leashes on beaches, be careful going into the water since many are floating in seaweed, and notify animal control if they find any dead birds.
The Department of Fish and Game also issued a warning Wednesday, saying that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been detected from Canada to Florida over the past several months. The department asks that any sightings of sick, injured or dead wild birds to mass.gov/reportbirds and domestic birds to the Division of Animal Health at 617-626-1795.
This type of avian flu is considered a low risk to people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.