Avian flu found in 3 birds at El Dorado Park—the first cases in LA County since outbreak began

The first confirmed cases of avian flu in Los Angeles County this year were recently found in three birds near El Dorado Park, the Long Beach Health Department announced Thursday.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A H5—otherwise known as avian flu or bird flu—was found in two Canadian geese and one black-crowned night-heron, city health officials said in a statement. Other sick and dead wild birds were also found in the area, according to health officials.

Avian flu is highly contagious among birds and can sicken and kill domesticated bird species, such as chickens, ducks and turkeys, according to city health officials. Domestic poultry, waterfowl, raptors and certain shorebirds are most at risk of the virus.

The current avian flu outbreak occurring in the U.S. began in February and has so far affected more than 47 million wild birds and poultry, say health officials.

Though avian flu can be transmitted from birds to people, the risk of transmission is “very low,” according to health officials. Transmission of the disease from person to person is also “very rare,” the Health Department said.

Even so, health officials recommend the following to minimize the risk of avian flu transmission:

  • Avoid contact with wild birds, even if they don’t look sick.
  • Avoid surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva or feces from birds.
  • Keep dogs and other pets away from wild birds.
  • Do not handle sick or injured birds.
  • Report sick and injured wildlife, including birds, to Long Beach Animal Care Services personnel (562-570-7387) for care and disposal.
  • Bird owners should seek veterinary attention for their own animals if they seem sick.
  • People with backyard chickens, ducks or other poultry should remove water and food sources that feed wild birds like bird feeders and bird baths.
  • People with backyard flocks should keep poultry feed away from wild birds and rodents.
  • People who handle pet birds or backyard poultry should thoroughly wash their hands and clean and disinfect footwear before and after coming into contact with their birds.
  • If you come in contact with a sick or deceased bird and develop flu-like symptoms within 10 days, isolate from others and contact your doctor.

The city is currently renovating the El Dorado Park Duck Pond. To ensure that avian flu doesn’t spread within El Dorado Park, Animal Care Services may euthanize sick birds that are suspected of carrying the virus “to protect the overall bird population,” health officials said.

The Health Department is also reaching out to veterinarians and pet stores and is currently developing more detailed information for backyard poultry owners and the general public. Information will be posted and updated at longbeach.gov/hpai.

Construction on the El Dorado Duck Pond is about to begin; here’s what you need to know

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Anthony Pignataro is an investigative reporter and editor for the Long Beach Post. He has close to three decades of experience in journalism leading numerous investigations and long-form journalism projects for the OC Weekly and other publications. He joined the Post in May 2021.
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