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News brief with The Colorado Sun: Avian flu & the Mosquito Man

Northern spotted owlets.
Northern spotted owlets.

On Tuesdays, we talk with our colleagues at the Colorado Sun about some of their top stories.

Reporter Michael Booth joined us today to talk about the worst avian flu outbreak the state has ever seen and a Metropolitan State University of Denver biology professor who is doing "hands-on" West Nile Virus research with mosquitoes.

Colorado is experiencing the worst avian flu outbreak in state history. Farmers have had to mass slaughter millions of infected chickens to stop the spread in egg-producing facilities. At least four bald eagles have died from the virus, as have thousands of geese. Bird experts say hundreds of other wild bird species are also at risk.

Booth told KUNC the time of year makes tracking the outbreak complicated.

“Migration is still going on, which is, of course, natural, but it means that the avian flu virus is also still moving around quite a bit and they don’t know yet quite when or how it’s going to burn out,” he said.

Avian flu can be transmitted to waterfowl through infected saliva and feces. Scavenger birds can also catch and spread it after eating infected carcasses. Wildlife officials are urging residents to call in reports of bird carcasses and birds behaving strangely. They say not to touch any remains.

Moving from one flying creature to another, we talk about biology professor and researcher Bob Hancock, who's known as the Mosquito Man. He's trying to figure out - one bite at a time - why Colorado is such a hotbed for West Nile virus. The state has recently recorded two of its worst years for West Nile.

As a reporter and Morning Edition host for KUNC, I follow the local stories of the day while also guiding KUNC listeners through NPR's wider-scope coverage. It's an honor and a privilege to help our audience start their day informed and entertained.