San Mateo County advises residents to protect themselves and their pets from rising bird flu cases

San Mateo County Health is advising residents with pet birds to protect their pets from the risk of spreading bird flu due to an increase in cases in the area, according to the county health department.

Although there have been no human cases of bird flu, residents should keep their birds away from “contact with wild birds” and take precautions when handling dead birds, a statement said. county press.

Bird owners should also secure their birds inside an area that wild birds cannot access, remove feeders and birdbaths so they do not attract wild birds, store foods in sealed containers and using water from commercial sources instead of shared water sources, such as ponds, the county added.

According to authorities, domestic poultry – especially chickens and turkeys – are most at risk from the virus.

Recently, according to San Mateo County Health, various bird species in the area — such as the American white pelican, great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, and American crow — were all tested. positive for avian flu.

Avian flu, which is highly contagious and often fatal in birds, poses minimal risk to people, although residents should always be careful when interacting with wild birds.

“Bird flu is common in Northern California,” said Marc Meulman, director of public health, policy and planning for San Mateo, which directly oversees animal control in the county. “Although the risk to humans is low, we ask the public to avoid dead birds where possible and residents who keep chickens, roosters, turkeys and other birds to avoid their exposure to wild birds.”

Pets — such as dogs and cats — should also be kept away from wild birds and their droppings due to the recent strain found in carnivores such as foxes and coyotes, according to the county.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infected birds shed the virus through their saliva, mucous membranes and feces, with human infections occurring when the virus enters a person’s eyes, nose or mouth. , or is inhaled.

San Mateo County residents who encounter a dead bird on public property are encouraged to contact the Peninsula Humane Society at (650) 340-8200 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For dead birds on private property, residents can pick them up. safely – using gloves and a mask – before delivering them to one of the Peninsula Humane Society locations in Burlingame or San Mateo.


Joel Umanzor (he/him) is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: joel.umanzor@sfchronicle.com

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