First eight cases of bird flu detected in wild birds in LA County; The risk of transmission to humans is low
October 17, 2022 ~ The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed the first eight cases of avian flu in Los Angeles County, including three Canada geese and a night heron in Long Beach, three Canada geese Canada in the City of Los Angeles and a Canada Goose in Cerritos. These cases are part of the ongoing nationwide outbreak of avian influenza, also known as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1. Currently, the public health risk of this H5N1 virus is low.
This bird flu (AI), or bird flu, is a viral disease of birds caused by influenza type A viruses.
It is also of concern for domestic poultry as it is highly contagious and can cause illness and death in backyard and commercial flocks. It is spread through direct bird-to-bird contact or indirectly when the virus is on clothing, shoes, vehicles, rodents, insects, food, water, feathers, etc. Birds excrete the virus in bodily fluids such as respiratory droplets, mucus, saliva, and feces.
Although the health risk to the general public from this H5N1 virus is low, human infections can occur when the virus is inhaled (as droplets or dust) or when it enters the eyes, nose or skin. person’s mouth (either through unprotected contact with infected birds or contact with contaminated surfaces). The spread of HPAI from one infected person to another is very rare. However, since AI viruses can change and acquire the ability to spread easily between people, it is important to monitor both human infection and person-to-person spread.
The general public should avoid handling wild birds and only observe them from a distance. People exposed to birds through work (including in animal shelters, veterinary clinics, or poultry processing plants) or recreational exposures to birds should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when bird handling. This includes a mask, eye protection, gloves, and dedicated clothing and footwear. After handling a bird, wash your hands well with soap and water and change clothes before contact with other birds, especially domestic poultry or pet birds. Properly handled and cooked poultry and poultry products are safe to eat in the United States.
AI viruses are classified as highly pathogenic or low pathogenic based on their ability to cause disease and death in laboratory chickens. AI viruses circulate naturally among waterbirds, but H5N1, the highly pathogenic strain responsible for this ongoing outbreak, has caused illness and death in a wider variety of wild bird species. than usual. Wild birds may show no symptoms or show neurological signs (including swimming in circles, head tilting or shaking), respiratory distress or sudden death. Domestic birds may have head and eye swelling, diarrhea, weakness, respiratory distress and loss of appetite.
Help reduce the spread and risk of avian flu:
- Avoid contact with wild birds, even if they don’t look sick.
- Avoid surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva or droppings from wild or domestic birds.
- Keep dogs and other pets away from wild birds.
- Do not handle sick or injured birds. Contact your local animal control agency for assistance.
- Bird owners should consult a veterinarian for their own animals if they appear sick.
- People with chickens, ducks or other backyard poultry should remove water and food sources that feed wild birds (feeders, birdbaths, etc.).
- People with backyard flocks should keep poultry feed away from wild birds and rodents.
- People who handle pet birds or backyard poultry should wash their hands thoroughly and clean and disinfect shoes before and after coming into contact with their birds.
- Remove bird feeders and baths that may cause birds to congregate
For those who own birds that reside outdoors (for example, a flock of backyard chickens) or who have handled a dead bird within 14 days of the onset of flu-like symptoms, Public Health recommends isolate yourself from others and seek medical attention. Flu-like symptoms include fever, chills, and muscle/body aches. When seeking care, please inform your provider of your possible exposure to AI.
Agencies and veterinarians can report sick or dead birds to Veterinary Public Health (VPH) by calling 213-288-7060 or by completing this report form and emailing it to [email protected]. The public can report dead birds using the HPV online reporting portal.
Veterinary Public Health is monitoring the situation and working with the appropriate state and local agencies to continue monitoring, testing and tracking birds for this disease.