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
vet@ph.lacounty.gov
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Avian Influenza (AI) or "Bird Flu"
Geese flying
chickens in a flock
HPAI Guidance for Animal Control, Shelter and Veterinary Facilities in Los Angeles County pdf icon56
CDC Recommendations for Worker Protection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Reduce Exposure to HPAI H5 Viruses / (En Espa˝ol)

REPORT SICK OR DEAD BIRDS
Report the bird to your local animal control agency. They might be able to collect and hold it for HPAI testing. Waterfowl, shorebirds and medium or large birds are the best types of birds to test for HPAI.

Please also notify Public Health about the bird.
Complete this reporting form and email to vet@ph.lacounty.gov or visit this public online reporting portal. Let us know if you were able to contact Animal Control.

To learn about reporting individual dead crows or other birds for potential West Nile Virus testing, click here.

 

Animal Health Alert: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 Detected in Wild Birds in Los Angeles County: Guidance and Reporting Forms pdf icon1 1.24.2024

 

HPAI H5N1 has again been detected in four wild birds found in Los Angeles County this winter. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) recently reported them as confirmed cases.

  • A raven with neurologic and respiratory signs found in
    Eagle Rock in November 2023

  • A Western Gull found with neurologic signs in El Segundo
    in November 2023

  • A Canada Goose found shaking and apparently in pain, in Alhambra in December 2023

  • A Western Gull that was wobbly and had head tremors, found in Manhattan Beach in January 2024

These 4 cases are are in addition to the 30 reported between October 2022 and April 2023. So far there have been no reports of any mammals testing positive for HPAI H5N1 in LA County.

Currently, the risk of transmission of HPAI H5N1 to humans is considered low. However, there is evidence that H5N1 may infect humans in rare instances. The virus may easily be transmitted to other birds, including poultry, pet birds, and other wild birds. There is some risk of the virus being transmitted to mammals such as dogs, cats, and wild mammals, especially if they eat infected, uncooked birds.

Residents should take again down bird feeders and communal bird baths to reduce the risk of the virus spreading from bird-to-bird. They should also keep pets away from sick and dead birds, and prevent wild birds from getting into areas holding pet birds or poultry. Freshly dead birds, especially larger ones like geese, ducks and shorebirds, should be reported to your local animal control agency for potential collection and testing.

Please read below to learn more about HPAI H5N1, including recommendations.

       

What is Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1?

Avian influenza (AI) or bird flu, is a viral infectious disease of birds caused by type A influenza viruses.  Although AI viruses can naturally be found in waterbirds, the current strain of H5N1 that is circulating in the U.S. and globally has been the cause of illness and death in a greater variety of wild bird species than in previous AI outbreaks.  The virus is also of concern for domestic poultry as it is highly contagious and may cause significant illness and death in backyard and commercial flocks.

 

Can HPAI H5N1 affect other animals?

HPAI H5N1 has been reported to affect other types of animals including those that share environments with infected birds or that scavenge or eat infected birds.  Globally and in the US, other types of animals found to have HPAI include: skunks, foxes, mountain lions, bears, raccoons, opossums, bobcats, a coyote, harbor seals, a river otter, and a bottlenose dolphin.  A number of these animals were found dead in groups which prompted investigation and testing by various agencies.  2 mountain lions were found positive for HPAI in Mono County, California in March 2023 and a bobcat was found positive for HPAI in Butte County in December 2022.  For more information about HPAI in mammals, visit here: USDA 2022-2023 Detections of HPAI in Mammals.

 

Can HPAI H5N1 affect pets?

Domestic pets have also been found to be positive for HPAI and can die from the infection.  In April 2023, a dog in Ontario, Canada tested positive for HPAI and died after chewing on a dead goose.  This is the first case reported globally of a dog contracting this strain of the virus.  3 cats in the US (1 in Wyoming in April 2023 and 2 in Nebraska in January 2023) suspected of hunting and eating wild birds tested positive for HPAI.  The 2 cats in Nebraska showed neurologic signs (tremors, seizures, walking in circles) prior to dying.  To prevent infection in pets, they should not have contact with wildlife including wild birds, and raw or uncooked poultry should not be fed.

 

Is HPAI in Los Angeles County?

The first cases of avian flu or bird flu were been confirmed in LA County in October 2022.  These cases are part of the ongoing nationwide bird flu outbreak, also known as HPAI H5N1.  Between October 2022 and April 2023, 30 cases in birds were confirmed in LA County. After several months without any cases, three infected birds were found in November-December of 2023.

 

Maps of birds with HPAI H5N1 LA County 2022-2024

*Updates to this map will be sporadic (not weekly).

What is the risk to human health from HPAI?

At this time, the risk to the general public's health from the current HPAI H5N1 virus is low.  However, some people may have job-related (animal control, veterinary clinic, poultry processing plants, etc.) or recreational exposures to birds that put them at higher risk of infection.  People who work with birds or handle sick birds should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N-95 respirator, disposable gloves, properly-fitted eye protection, fluid-resistant disposable gown or coveralls, footwear that can be disinfected (e.g. rubber boots) or boot covers and head or hair cover.  For more information about protective actions that should be taken when handling birds, see here

 

HPAI Guidance for Animal Control, Shelter and Veterinary Facilities in Los Angeles County pdf icon56 10.27.2022

 

CDC Recommendations for Worker Protection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Reduce Exposure to HPAI H5 Viruses / (En Espa˝ol)

 

What is the risk to wild birds and domestic birds from HPAI?

HPAI H5N1 is primarily a disease of poultry (chicken, turkeys) and may cause significant loss in backyard and commercial flocks.  In wild birds, the infection may cause mild to severe illness depending on the species affected. 

 

What are the symptoms of HPAI in poultry (chickens, turkeys)?

  • Sudden death of bird with no clinical symptoms

  • Lack of energy

  • Inappetence

  • Swelling of head, comb, eyelid, wattles and hocks

  • Discoloration of wattles, combs and legs

  • Nasal discharge

  • Coughing

  • Sneezing

  • Neurological signs (incoordination)

  • Diarrhea

 

What are the symptoms of HPAI in wild birds?

  • No symptoms

  • Neurological signs (incoordination, swimming in circles, weak)

  • Sudden death

 

How does HPAI spread?

The virus spreads through direct bird-to-bird contact or indirectly when virus is on clothing, footwear, vehicles, rodents, insects, feed, water, feathers, etc.  Birds release or shed the virus in bodily fluids such as respiratory droplets, mucus, saliva, and feces.

 

Help to reduce the spread and risk of avian influenza:

  • Take down bird feeders and bird baths to reduce interactions between wild birds and domestic birds and to reduce contamination of the ground/environment with wild bird droppings

  • Avoid contact with wild birds, even if they don't look sick

  • Avoid surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva or feces from wild or domestic birds

  • Keep dogs, cats and other pets away from wild birds

  • Do not feed raw or uncooked poultry to pets

  • Do not handle sick or injured birds.  Contact your local animal control agency for help.  Call 211 to find your local animal control agency or click here.

  • Report sick or dead birds to Veterinary Public Health (VPH) by completing this reporting form and emailing it to vet@ph.lacounty.gov.  The public may report dead birds using the VPH online reporting portal.

 

Tips for keeping backyard or commercial poultry healthy:

Protect your Poultry from Avian Influenza - USDA

 

Social media posts to share or post

Please consider sharing or posting these images to increase awareness about HPAI.  Click on each image to make it larger.

 

wild birds can spread AI    did you know about HPAI?

Wild Birds Can Spread Avian Influenza                                               Did You Know About HPAI?

 

protect birds             protect pet birds

Protect Birds in Your Community                                               Protect Pet Birds From Bird Flu

 

help limit spread of HPAI

Help Limit the Spread of Bird Flu

 

MORE INFORMATION

 

 



Last updated: March 1, 2024

 
 
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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