GLENN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced on Thursday that it detected Highly Pathogenic Eurasian H5N1 Avian Influenza in three wild birds found at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, located about 85 miles northwest of Sacramento.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife reported collecting the birds on July 5 during a mortality event and sent the birds to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center for testing.
The USDA National Veterinary Services confirmed on July 13 that two Canadian geese and one American white pelican were carrying avian influenza H5N1.
“Although avian influenza viruses naturally circulate among waterbirds, the strain of H5N1 currently in circulation in the U.S. and Canada has been causing illness and death in a higher diversity of wild bird species than during previous avian influenza outbreaks,” Fish and Wildlife wrote.
These are the first cases of H5N1 detected in California, although no domestic poultry, such as chickens or turkeys, has been shown to be carrying H5N1.
At lest 1,825 wild birds have been found carrying H5N1 in 42 states since January, according to compiled data from the USDA. Also, 386 commercial and backyard domestic poultry and mixed-species flocks have confirmed positive for H5N1 in 36 states.
“Infection with avian influenza viruses among songbirds, including many common backyard birds, appears to be rare,” Fish and Wildlife wrote. “However, feeding and providing water to wild birds is discouraged, especially in the vicinity of backyard poultry or other captive birds such as ducks, geese, pigeons, doves and parrots.”
If the public does find a dead wild bird they can report them with the CDFW’s mortality reporting form.
In response to this positive detection of H5N1, the Sacramento Zoo issued a public statement on Friday on the measures they take to keep their birds and other animals healthy.
“The zoo’s veterinary medicine program is directed by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and we are working with our veterinary partners to implement safety protocols for the birds under our care,” the Sacramento Zoo wrote in their statement. “Due to potential risk to birds at the zoo, we are taking a variety of precautionary measures and have activated a comprehensive disease prevention plan.”
The zoo’s flamingo flock, which is located at their open-air lake, will be temporarily relocated to safer housing instead of an exhibit, according to the zoo. Some larger birds are remaining in their habitats under medical supervision and may be moved into shelters if needed.