First bird flu cases in wildfowl reported in Los Angeles County this year The first wildfowl infected with bird flu in Los Angeles this year have been found in San Diego County, officials announced today. The birds were infected with H5N3, the same influenza virus that has killed more than 900 humans in Asia.
The H5N3 bird flu virus has killed seven people in Hong Kong within the past two weeks.
“The discovery of the cases is not terribly surprising. The virus is well known and commonly found in wildfowl,” said Dr. James P. Cunningham, a veterinarian at the San Diego Zoo. “While the cases are not new, the fact that they were discovered in the same county is even more unusual.
“I think the most frightening thing is the fact the people who found the cases said they hadn’t seen the H5N3 bird flu before. I think what is disturbing is the fact that these cases were in San Diego County.”
The infected birds are being tested to determine their exact virus strain.
“The virus is very close to human influenza,” said Dr. Cunningham. “The chances of it spreading that close to humans is very small, but when it does it could have a huge impact on the birds and the humans.”
San Diego County is home to more than 1,000 documented cases of the H5N3 avian influenza, while Los Angeles County has seen no cases.
The H5N3 virus is known to have spread from birds to people, as the virus has killed more than 900 people since it was first discovered in 1997 in Hong Kong.
Bird flu spreads like wildfire
California is the only U.S. state where human infections with bird flu are a problem.
“The fact that it was identified as a new strain this year is very concerning,” said Dr. Cunningham. “It is a virus that is spreading just like wildfire. It is spreading in the wildfowl population and it is spreading in domestic poultry.
“So we have to get prepared for more cases. We have to prepare ourselves by vaccinating our flocks. If