A bald eagle takes flight from a tree at Kinney Compost in Knox where dozens of bald eagles flock to feast on fish scraps that are delivered daily to the farm. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Two American bald eagles tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in Maine, the United States Department of Agriculture has confirmed.

Both cases were detected on April 6. One was in Lincoln County and the other was in York County.

Two bald eagles also tested positive for the disease in neighboring Vermont.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to the general public from the virus to be low, but the virus can be deadly to domestic and commercial poultry and backyard birds.

H5N1 avian influenza is carried by flying wild waterfowl like ducks, geese and shorebirds. While it does not sicken wild fowl, it causes severe symptoms in domestic fowl including chickens, turkeys, ducks, pheasants, geese and guinea fowl.

Since first being identified in a Knox County small backyard flock of chickens, the virus has been responsible for the death of more than 600 chickens and other poultry birds in Maine, either directly or because the birds were humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

learn more about the avian flu

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services provides updates on newly identified cases in both backyard poultry and wild birds. The department also provides information and resources to help people keep birds healthy and reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases.

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.