Veterinary Public Health

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Contact Information
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"
Geese flying
chickens in a flock
CDC Recommendations for Worker Protection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Reduce Exposure to HPAI H5 Viruses / (En Espaņol)

Complete this reporting form
and email to or visit this public online reporting portal.


2022 - 2024 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in LA County


General Information about Avian Influenza

 What is avian influenza?

  • Avian influenza (AI) refers to a family of influenza (flu) viruses that commonly infect birds.

  • 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).

    • Note: HPAI strains causing disease in poultry do not always cause disease in humans.


How is AI transmitted to people/animals?

  • 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 feces (poop).

  • 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., clothing, footwear, 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 droplets.

  • 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.

  • Click here to learn more about AI in animals. (CFSPH)


  • As in animals, symptoms of AI in people vary with the infecting strains. Common symptoms include: fever, cough, muscle aches, conjunctivitis and sometimes pneumonia.

  • Click here to learn more about AI infections in humans. (CDC)


What is the treatment for AI?

  • Commercial birds with AI are usually euthanized to prevent further spread of the virus.

  • Click here for information about AI treatment in people.

  • (CDC)


What should I do to prevent AI in  animals or myself?

Biosecurity and infection control are key to prevent the spread of AI to animals and people. This includes:

  • 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 wild birds

  • Isolate sick birds from the healthy ones

  • Wear appropriate personal protective 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 to Veterinary Public Health with this form or by calling 213-288-7060 or emailing


Last updated: April 10, 2023

Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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