LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is expressing concern over growing reports of avian influenza, confirming another new case in the state Thursday.

A department spokesman said that a third case of the disease had been found in a backyard flock in Arkansas County. Because of this, the flock had an increased mortality rate over the past several days, the spokesman said.

The earlier infections of the disease had been found beginning in October in Madison and Pope County farms.

 “The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is urging poultry owners to increase biosecurity measures on their operations in response to several reports of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds along the Mississippi Flyway,” ADA Livestock and Poultry Division director Patrick Fisk said.

“We will continue to work with poultry growers, the industry, and our laboratory partners to protect against the spread of avian influenza,” Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward added. “Arkansas poultry is safe to eat, and consumers can be confident in the safety of their food.”

Avian influenza is an airborne respiratory virus that spreads quickly among chickens. The virus can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers.

The ADA asks flock owners follow biosecurity guidelines, including restricting access.