SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced since the bird flu outbreak began seven counties in the state have been affected.

Ken Harmon is a general curator at the Dickerson Park Zoo and he is worried about water-foul animals such as ducks, geese, and any bird who migrates North this time of year. The zoo is taking many safety precautions to prevent transmission.

“Oh, it’s very important,” said Harmon. “A lot of these animals are endangered and we need to keep them as safe as possible. We just need some warm weather to push the wild waterfowl on North to their breeding areas. That will help alleviate it the most.”

Chickens are the most vulnerable animal to the bird flu, which is why they aren’t on exhibit currently.

To reduce transmission the Flamingo viewing deck is also closed and fish feeding areas have been closed down around the lake to prevent wild animals from coming in.

The zoo is taking these steps as health officials are calling this surge the worst bird flu outbreak since 2015.

“It’s serious and it happens every year,” said Harmon. “This strain just happens to be a little bit more virulent. We have a vet staff and we’ve consulted with them and came up with the best plan for us.”