TikTok star Emmanuel the Emu didn't have avian flu after all – it was stress

TikTok star Emmanuel the Emu didn't have avian flu after all – it was stress
This emu lived in a hobby farm. Then she met the man …

Last week, it was reported that viral sensation Emmanuel the Emu was battling the dangerous avian flu – but after all the worry, it turns out the bird was just stressed.

Emmanuel rose to stardom after pecking at Taylor Blake’s phone as she attempted to film an educational video about farming when the emu, who is from her family’s Knuckle Bump Farms in Florida.

On Saturday (15 October), Blake took to Twitter to speak on the “massive tragedy” that affected the farm after wild Egyptian Geese started to routinely swoop down and infect the domesticated animals with avian influenza.

“I’ve tried countless times to write this post, but it’s been extremely difficult for me. We had a massive tragedy strike the farm, and I have been doing my best to wrap my head around it,” Blake tweeted.

Sign upto our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

In a subsequent tweet, she also stated that the farm lost over 50 birds in “3 days” and that she’s trying to “wrap” her head around it.

Blake, who also dubs the emu “Emmanuel Todd Lopez,” said she’s been treating him since Wednesday.

She also explained that her veterinarian was able to “sedate and stabilize” Emmanuel, but he still faces “a long road ahead” to full recovery.

Blake further mentioned that vaccinating birds for avian influenza was “relatively impossible” because the virus mutates at such a high frequency.

But fortunately, Emmanuel hadn't stopped fighting to become stronger.

After a few stressful days and nights, Blake created a sling for Emmanuel to begin physical therapy because he suffered nerve damage to his leg and foot after the infection.

On Sunday (16 October), Blake tweeted about some initial signs of Emmanuel’s recovery.

She said she had positioned the emu “lying down facing the gate to his stall” when she did her 6am check-in. And then, when she went back to do some “physical therapy” with him, he was “sitting up” and turned around in the opposite direction.


Blake also shared that Emmanuel drank water alone for the first time since he "contracted the virus" and asked for continued prayers and well wishes.

After the string of worried tweets, Blake announced that it wasn't Avian flu after all.

“Emmanuel Todd Lopez tested negative for Avian influenza at 2 separate labs, swab, fecal and blood. He does not have the virus, and is not actively shedding the virus,” she tweeted on Saturday.

“He does not have the virus, and is not actively shedding the virus God is good! Thank you for the prayers, the kind words, and the support. Always trust your intuition!”

Blake said that the bird’s symptoms, including fatigue, lack of appetite, weakness, a twisted neck and “apparent nerve damage” in his right foot were stress-related.

“We believe this all stemmed from stress. 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.”

She added: “Something in my gut just told me that this wasn’t the end for him. So I kept fighting for him, and I don’t regret it. He never once had a single symptom of AI, other than not eating, which is often caused by stress in emus. It was just very coincidental timing.”

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)