First bird flu cases in wildfowl reported in Los Angeles County this year; bird flu suspected
Sylvia Garcia-Vazquez at her home in Reseda. (Sylvia Garcia-Vazquez)
Sylvia Garcia-Vazquez prepares the family to start bird flu hunting. (Sylvia Garcia-Vazquez)
As the cold weather approaches, there is one thing parents everywhere can do: Get your kids outdoors.
The first bird flu cases in wildfowl in the U.S. in California this year have been reported in the Los Angeles area, said Dr. Mike Ryan of the United States Geological Survey. He said the disease likely spreads from wild birds by airborne contact.
The agency found nine California birds infected in the wild, including two California condors and four Canada geese. Those birds died of the disease, which, if left untreated, can be fatal to humans. Ryan said the disease is spreading in far southern California as well as the northern part of the state.
For information to protect your children from bird flu and to help protect wild birds from disease, call the U.S. Geological Survey’s Bird Flu Hotline at (888) 444-3793.
“It’s a very new pathogen,” Ryan told the Los Angeles Times while on a tour of the Los Angeles County Arboretum. He said the government isn’t sure where the disease originated.
Ryan said the disease is “still a challenge” to identify because it doesn’t behave like other known diseases, such as chickenpox or smallpox. For example, it’s not contagious through droplets.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last week discussed options for a contingency plan in case of bird flu in the county.
In the interim, Ryan said the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the department of Fish and Wildlife are testing waterfowl near Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo in California, and the Fish and Wildlife Service has asked bird hunters in the Santa Barbara area to stop taking birds for scientific and ecological studies.
Ryan said the federal agencies are providing bird hunters with health information but not with precise information about the health of the birds.
“One of the