NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Out of an abundance of caution, the Virginia Living Museum has temporarily closed its aviary due to the spread of a new, highly infectious strain of the avian flu.

This newest strain of the bird flu puts many of our winged friends, like birds like chickens, turkeys and other waterfowl, at high risk.

Virginia Living Museum Senior Director of Animal Welfare Jim Weinpress says it doesn’t present a high risk for everyday people, only those around the animals much of the time.

Still, he says the museum is taking every precaution.

“It can jump from bird to bird fairly quickly,” he said. “Staff that work very closely with the animals under our care do wear a special gown now. They put on special booties, they wear gloves. They wear masks to ensure, again, that they aren’t playing a role in any accidental transmission and they’re staying safe themselves.”

Humans can play a role in spreading the virus, which is why the aviary is temporarily closed.

“Bird droppings, physical contact with one another. It can be transferred on someone’s clothing. It can sit on the surface of the water in close contact,” he said. 

To help stop the spread, animal experts say now may not be the best time to throw bread crumbs at some hungry birds. 

“Not the best idea right now to be feeding wild waterfowl for a number of reasons,” he said. “In terms of their own nutrition and how our behavior may affect them, but most importantly, we don’t want to do anything that would encourage these birds to congregate.”

There’s no clear-cut answer as to when the aviary at the Living Museum may reopen.

The spread of the virus could impact prices for poultry at the grocery store as facilities try to combat the spread of it amongst birds.