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"As it stands now," Muschinske continues, "their procedures are: they go out, survey all the properties in the immediate area, identifying everything within a kilometer, more or less, as being in the quarantined zone. Sometimes they increase it, and then they let everybody know that nothing can be let out of that quarantine zone. No birds can be moved out, nor the bird-related things, such as cages or equipment. And in the past, they have had the latitude to go out and kill everything within the radius. While that may be true in some circumstances today, in general, that practice would be restricted only to those birds that have been exposed and that are not what you would normally call 'companion birds.' "

So far, there have been no known cases of pet birds being infected with the disease. And owners of the birds are taking extraordinary precautions. "It's called biosecurity," Ivester explains. "Don't take your birds anywhere, don't let anybody come over that has birds, unless you know them and know their birds are healthy. And don't let anybody handle your birds right now; you just don't do it."

Ivester also disinfects her own hands and feet before handling the birds.

"We're recommending," Heilman says, "that if the birds are outside, that their aviaries and cages should be completely roofed or tarped. Because wild birds -- sparrows and pigeons -- can easily fly onto the chicken farm and then fly to the cage and, through their droppings, can infect the other birds. And normally, people that have pet birds like to take them to the beach on the weekends, or camping, or to the desert. We are telling them not to do that until this is over with."

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