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Bird flu detected in wild birds in Santa Barbara County

Bird Flu
Posted at 12:51 PM, Feb 17, 2023

Santa Barbara County Public Health officials say isolated cases of avian influenza, or bird flu, have been found in wild birds in the county.

So far, county officials say there have been no reported cases of bird flu at any of the poultry farms in Santa Barbara County.

Health officials say bird flu is found in some populations of wild waterfowl that can infect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese, and other domesticated and wild birds.

County health officials released the following recommendations for poultry owners to protect their flocks from bird flu:

  • Prevent contact between domestic and wild birds by bringing your birds into an enclosure that is covered.
  • If you have bodies of water on your property, such as ponds or ditches, consider draining them to avoid attracting wild birds and keep your domestic birds away from this potentially contaminated water.
  • Use sanitized well or city water for your birds.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling your birds, including when handling birds from coop to coop.
  • Prevent rodents and predators from entering your coop.
  • Prevent pets such as cats and dogs from eating dead wild birds.
  • Keep feed covered and spills cleaned up to avoid attracting wild birds and rodents.
  • Wash and disinfect boots and equipment when moving between coops.
  • Do not share equipment or supplies with neighbors.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment and other supplies between uses.
  • Clean and disinfect your shoes and vehicle tires after visiting feedstores and other places frequented by other poultry owners or wild bird hunters.
  • Avoid visiting places where wild birds congregate, such as lakes and ponds.

Symptoms of avian influenza in birds include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Clear, runny discharge from nose, mouth, and eyes
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drinking less
  • Swollen eyes, head, wattles, or combs
  • Discolored or bruised comb, wattles, or legs
  • Stumbling, falling, or twisted neck
  • Sudden death
  • Decrease in egg production or misshapen eggs
  • Diarrhea

While officials say the risk to the general public is very low, they say people should avoid direct contact with wild birds, especially dead birds or those that seem ill.

Bird flu rarely infects humans, but people who do become infected may experience mild symptoms such as eye redness or flu-like upper respiratory symptoms to more severe symptoms that can lead to pneumonia.

If you experience any of these symptoms after coming in contact with a sick or dead bird, health officials say you should contact your doctor immediately.

You can report unusual or suspicious numbers of sick or dead domestic birds by calling the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Sick Bird Hotline at (866) 922-2473. Reports of unusual or suspicious dead wild birds can be made to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Laboratories/Wildlife-Health/Monitoring/Mortality-Report.