October 17, 2022
First Eight Cases of Avian Flu Detected in Wild Birds in Los Angeles County; Risk of Transmission to Humans is Low
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 Black-crowned Night Heron in Long Beach, three Canada Geese in the City of Los Angeles and one Canada Goose in Cerritos. These cases are part of the ongoing nationwide bird flu outbreak, also known as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1. Currently, the risk to the general public’s health from this H5N1 virus is low.
This avian influenza (AI), or bird flu, is a viral disease of birds caused by type A influenza viruses. It spreads through direct bird-to-bird contact or indirectly when virus is on clothing, footwear, vehicles, rodents, insects, feed, water, feathers, etc. Birds shed the virus in bodily fluids such as respiratory droplets, mucus, saliva, and feces.
Although the risk to the general public’s health from this H5N1 virus is low, human infections can happen when the virus is inhaled (in droplets or dust) or when it enters the person’s eyes, nose, or 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, because AI viruses can change and gain the ability to spread easily between people, it is important to monitor for both human infection and person-to-person spread.
AI viruses are categorized as either highly pathogenic or low pathogenic based on their ability to cause disease and death in chickens in a laboratory setting. AI viruses circulate naturally among waterbirds, but H5N1, the highly pathogenic strain responsible for this ongoing outbreak, has caused illness and death in a greater variety of wild bird species than is typical. Wild birds may have no symptoms or may have neurological signs (including swimming in circles, head tilt, or tremors), respiratory distress, or sudden death. Domestic birds may have swelling of the head and eyes, diarrhea, weakness, respiratory distress, and loss of appetite.
For our many parkgoers whose local park and nature centers is also home to many different types of birds, take the following precautions to keep yourself safe while also continuing to enjoy our parks and their many amenities:
- Do not feed wild birds including ducks, geese and swans.
- Do not touch wild birds, even if they appear healthy.
- Do not touch wild bird feathers or surfaces with birds droppings.
- Do not pick up or touch sick, dying or dead wild birds.
- Keep dogs and other pets away from wild birds.
- If you keep poultry or other birds at home, clean their environment:
Wash your hands and disinfect all equipment utilized in avian habitat sterilization. Be sure to remove and disinfect all footwear before and after handling any birds.
Park staff will be cleaning and washing pathways and surfaces regularly to prevent the spread of (HPAI) H5N1.
Veterinary Public Health is monitoring the situation and working with appropriate state and local agencies to continue surveillance, testing, and tracking of birds for this disease.
To report sick or dead birds, park patrons can submit an ANIMAL DISEASE PUBLIC SHORT REPORT FORM