Emmanuel the TikTok-famous emu doesn't have bird flu, caretaker says – NBC News

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Emmanuel the emu, who caused hysteria online last week when his caretaker suggested he might have contracted the highly contagious bird flu, is OK.
It turns out Emmanuel became ill from stress, his caretaker, Taylor Blake, said in a lengthy Twitter update over the weekend.
“Emmanuel Todd Lopez tested negative for Avian Influenza at 2 separate labs, swab, fecal and blood,” Blake tweeted. “He does not have the virus, and is not actively shedding the virus.”
Blake did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Blake’s videos of Emmanuel went viral this year, getting millions of views on TikTok and boosting the emu’s celebrity.
Blake announced this month that Emmanuel had fallen ill after a flock of wild Egyptian geese visited Knuckle Bump Farms, the hobby farm in South Florida where the emu lives.
Geese and other types of waterfowl are carriers of avian influenza, which they can pass through saliva, mucus and droppings.
Blake had said on Twitter that the virus killed 99% of the birds on her farm, including chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, female black swans and other emus popular with its TikTok followers.
The images and updates prompted some followers to point out not only that Emmanuel’s initial diagnosis was worrisome, but that it was also alarming to see the emu and his caretaker cuddling, given the dangers of the virus. 
But Saturday, Blake suggested fans of the beloved emu may have less to worry about.
“We believe this all stemmed from stress,” Blake tweeted. “Emus are highly susceptible to stress. He was incredibly overwhelmed by the state coming in and euthanizing our flock. (Although it was necessary, it was still very stressful on him) He stopped eating the day they depopulated.”
Blake tweeted an update from Emmanuel’s perspective Monday.
“I’m getting stronger each day, friends!” the tweet reads. “I am now able to lift myself up and reposition myself on my own. This is a BIG step, because before, I would just fall over. My neck is starting to straighten out and I am drinking lots of water on my own! Thank you for the prayers.”
Angela Yang is an intern for NBC News Digital.


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