Avian influenza is a highly contagious and often fatal disease in birds. We are urging poultry owners to increase their biosecurity practices. Biosecurity is the measures taken to prevent disease from entering and/or leaving a premises or location. Although this outbreak of avian influenza is primarily being spread by wild birds, the virus can be further spread between domestic flocks through contact with infected poultry, from contaminated equipment, and even the shoes and clothing worn by poultry caretakers.
As of September 2022, HPAI H5N1 has been detected in 34 wild birds from 13 counties including Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Mendocino, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Yolo. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has also reported detections of HPAI H5N1 in domestic birds in Butte, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Sacramento, and Tuolumne counties.
Help reduce the spread of HPAI:
- Identify sick birds. USDA has a list of symptoms here.
- Report dead wild birds to CDFW using the mortality reporting form. While it is not possible to test every wild bird for HPAI, all mortality reports are important and help disease specialists monitor the outbreak.
- Report sick and dead poultry to the CDFA hotline at (886) 922-2473.
- Prevent contact between domestic birds and wild birds, especially waterfowl.
- Exclude wild birds from accessing chicken or other domestic bird feed and water.
- Do not bring potentially sick wild birds home or move sick birds to another location.
- Obtain permits to move poultry/poultry products from a control area.
- Before transporting potentially sick wild birds to wildlife rehabilitation centers, veterinary clinics or other animal facilities, contact the facility for guidance and to determine if the bird should be collected.
- If recreating outdoors in areas with large concentrations of waterfowl and other waterbirds, wash clothing and disinfect footwear and equipment before traveling to other areas or interacting with domestic birds.
- Where it can be done so safely, consider disposing of dead birds to help reduce exposure to new birds and minimize scavenging by birds and mammals that also may be susceptible to infection.
The Centers for Disease Control considers the transmission risk of avian influenza to people to be low, but as a general precaution recommends limiting contact with wild birds and sick or dead poultry. If there is a need to dispose of a dead bird, wear impermeable gloves or a plastic bag turned inside-out to collect the remains into a plastic garbage bag, which may then be placed in the regular trash collection. Afterwards, wash hands with soap and water and change clothing before having contact with domestic poultry or pet birds. If assistance or guidance is needed with the disposal of dead birds on private property, contact your county environmental health department or animal services for options available in your area.
For more information on HPAI H5N1, check out CDFW’s informational flyer addressing frequently asked questions and links to additional resources. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains the official list of HPAI H5N1 detections on its website. For guidance on keeping domestic birds healthy, please visit the CDFA and USDA websites.