Two Geese Test Positive for HPAI H5N1
Two geese were sent by Riverside County Animal Services to a lab and tested positive for a serious strain of avian influenza that has been impacting wild and domestic birds throughout the country.
Riverside County Chief Veterinarian Dr. Sara Strongin received confirmation of the Eurasian highly pathogenic avian influenza (or HPAI H5N1) late Tuesday afternoon. The strain was introduced in the United States in the East in January. As wild birds migrated to the West, California counties started detecting cases. The first cases in California occurred in July.
The California Department of Fish & Wildlife advised that this strain is causing illness and death in a higher diversity of wild bird species compared with previous avian influenza outbreaks. Impacted species include: waterfowl, raptor predators and scavengers (vultures, gulls, etc.). Domestic birds, such as chickens, are especially vulnerable.
Unfortunately, infection in these species is nearly always fatal and there is not a vaccine or treatments available.
Riverside County’s neighboring counties started to report positive cases in recent weeks. The two geese were impounded by Riverside County officers from an unincorporated area near Perris last week.
“Although we just have these two positive cases so far, the disease is considered widespread in the Inland Empire and further cases will likely emerge as testing continues,” Dr. Strongin said.
Dr. Strongin provided guidance for Animal Services employees when dealing with deceased or sick birds.
The Centers for Disease Control considers the transmission risk of avian influenza to people to be low, but as a general precaution, the CDC 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. Afterward, wash hands with soap and water and change clothing before having contact with domestic poultry or pet birds.