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L.A. County’s First Avian Flu Case of 2024 Found in Manhattan Beach

Mar 06, 2024 09:10PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

A Western gull, the kind of bird that was found to have avian flu in Manhattan Beach.

Manhattan Beach is known for a lot of things, but… avian flu? The city now has the dubious distinction of being the first site in L.A. County where avian flu has been detected in 2024. 

A Western gull found in Manhattan Beach on January 27 was “wobbly and had head tremors,” according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health. That bird has now been confirmed as having avian flu.

Avian flu, while deeply concerning for the health of birds, especially domestic poultry and potentially other animals, is considered to be of low risk to humans. The people who had contact with the gull in Manhattan Beach have not reported any illness.

Nevertheless, public health officials say it is important to be aware of avian flu and what it can mean for bird populations. Read on for information complied from county, state, and national health and wildlife officials:

Avian Flu and its Risks

Avian influenza, or bird flu, is a viral infectious disease of birds caused by type A influenza viruses. The current strain of H5N1 that is circulating in the U.S. and around the world has been the cause of illness and death in a greater variety of wild bird species than in previous AI outbreaks. The virus is also of concern for domestic poultry given that it is highly contagious and may cause significant illness and death in backyard and commercial flocks.

The virus spreads through direct bird-to-bird contact or indirectly when the virus is on clothing, footwear, vehicles, rodents, insects, feed, water, feathers, etc. Birds release or shed the virus in bodily fluids such as respiratory droplets, mucus, saliva, and feces.

The HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) H5N1 strain has been reported to affect other types of animals including those that share environments with infected birds or that scavenge or eat infected birds. Globally and in the U.S., other types of animals found to have HPAI include skunks, foxes, mountain lions, bears, raccoons, opossums, bobcats, a coyote, harbor seals, a river otter, and a bottlenose dolphin. A number of these animals were found dead in groups.

Domestic pets have also been found to be positive for HPAI and can die from the infection. To prevent infection, pets should not have contact with wildlife including wild birds - especially dead birds - and they should not eat raw or uncooked poultry.

The Manhattan Beach finding marks the fourth case of avian flu spotted in L.A. County over the winter. The other cases include:

  • A raven with neurologic and respiratory signs found in Eagle Rock in November 2023;

  • A Western Gull found with neurologic signs in El Segundo in November 2023;

  • A Canada Goose found shaking and apparently in pain, in Alhambra in December 2023.

These four cases are are in addition to the 30 reported between October 2022 and April 2023.

So far there have been no reports of any mammals, including humans, testing positive for HPAI H5N1 in L.A. County. The risk of transmission of HPAI H5N1 to humans is considered low.

How Can We Prevent the Spread of Avian Flu?


To prevent the spread of avian flu, residents are urged to do the following:

  • Take down bird feeders and bird baths to reduce interactions between wild birds and domestic birds and to reduce contamination of the ground/environment with wild bird droppings;

  • Avoid contact with wild birds, even if they don't look sick;

  • Avoid surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva or feces from wild or domestic birds;

  • Keep dogs, cats and other pets away from wild birds;

  • Do not feed raw or uncooked poultry to pets;

  • Do not handle sick or injured birds.

In wild birds, symptoms can include neurological signs such as a lack of coordination, swimming in circles, or appearing weak or "wobbly." In chickens and other fowl, symptoms can include lack of energy or appetite; swelling of the head, comb, eyelid, wattles and hocks; discoloration of wattles, combs and legs; nasal discharge; coughing or sneezing; diarrhea; or other neurological signs.

If you see a sick, injured, or dead bird, first contact Manhattan Beach Animal Control or click here for the nearest agency.  Then complete this reporting form and email it to [email protected] or visit this public online reporting portal.

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