Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 288-7060
Fax (213) 481-2375
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Avian Influenza (AI) or "Bird Flu"
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in LA
General Information about Avian Influenza
What is avian influenza?
Avian influenza (AI) refers to a family
of influenza (flu) viruses that commonly
There are many strain of AI viruses.
They are classified based on
proteins found on the surface of the virus itself.
These are called H (hemagglutinin)
and N (neuraminidase).
Depending on the strain involved, AI
viruses can occasionally jump to humans and many
animal species, causing symptoms of flu.
Some of most important
AI viruses are those that cause severe disease in
poultry. These are referred to as
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).
How is AI transmitted to
In the wild, AI viruses can be carried
by waterfowl (ducks, geese) - these
birds usually do not have symptoms of
flu but can shed or release the virus in their
Domestic birds like poultry (chickens,
turkeys) become infected when they come
in contact with waterfowl feces
containing the virus.
Objects or equipment used
to care for animals can
become contaminated and
spread the virus to
other animals if not
cleaned properly (e.g.,
vehicles, feed, water,
feathers, rodents, other animals).
In addition, infected domestic birds can
pass the virus to each other through
direct bird-to-bird contact or through
saliva, mucus, feces, or respiratory
Humans may become infected with some
strains of AI through close, direct
contact with infected poultry. Human to
human transmission of AI rarely occurs.
What are symptoms of AI?
Depending on the strain involved,
infected birds can show any of the
following: no symptoms, respiratory
discharge, swollen eyes or head, lack of
appetite, lack of energy, weakness,
diarrhea, respiratory distress (trouble
breathing), sudden death, or nervous
signs such as swimming in circles,
tremors, or lack of coordination.
here to learn more
about AI in animals.
As in animals, symptoms
of AI in people vary
with the infecting
strains. Common symptoms
include: fever, cough,
here to learn more
about AI infections in
What is the
treatment for AI?
What should I do to prevent AI in animals or myself?
and infection control are key to prevent
the spread of AI to animals and people. This
Take down bird feeders and bird baths.
This helps to reduce interactions
between sick and healthy birds as well
reduces the chances that wild birds will
interact with domestic or pet birds.
Keep pet birds indoors
Do not let pet birds have contact with
Isolate sick birds
from the healthy ones
equipment (PPE) when handling
sick birds (mask, gloves, eye protection,
dedicated clothing that can be laundered
and footwear that can be disinfected)
After touching birds, wash hands well
with soap and water
If you have poultry or backyard flocks
at home, be sure to wash hands and
change clothing/disinfect footwear and
equipment before you handle your birds,
especially if you have visited areas
with wild birds or other poultry
Report sick/dead poultry
Veterinary Public Health
form or by calling 213-288-7060 or
Last updated: April 10, 2023