PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — State lawmakers are already making preparations in an effort to control any future outbreaks of the bird flu and other animal diseases.

The R.I. House approved legislation Thursday that would give the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) the authority to set up a quarantine area that would prevent domestic animals or products from traveling if a suspected case of a contagious disease is present.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Potter, was requested by the DEM in an effort to respond to the nationwide outbreak of a highly contagious strain of avian influenza.

While the strain doesn’t affect humans, it does have the ability to wipe out an entire flock.

“Bird flu, unfortunately, is absolutely devastating to farms and livestock,” Potter said.

There are currently no reported cases of avian influenza in Rhode Island, however the DEM believes it is present in the state’s wildlife and could easily spread to domestic animals.

Potter commended the DEM for taking a proactive approach to protect the state’s farms and animals.

“The DEM needs to be able to respond very quickly and effectively to stop it from spreading to any other flocks once it is detected,” Potter said. “None of us wants to see this disease wreaking havoc on farms and backyard flocks.”

The bill now heads to the R.I. Senate for consideration.