The Charles County Department of Health, in coordination with the Maryland Department of Health and the Office of the State Veterinarian, has issued an alert regarding the potential spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Waldorf. This warning follows the discovery of deceased geese in the area, raising concerns about the H5N1 bird flu outbreak among wild birds and poultry.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk to the general public from the H5N1 bird flu outbreak is currently low. However, due to the recent die-off of wild geese in Charles County, health officials advise residents and visitors to take necessary precautions.
Key recommendations include avoiding direct contact with wild birds and observing them afar. Wild birds can carry avian influenza A viruses even without showing symptoms. The public is also urged to avoid unprotected interaction with domestic birds that appear sick or have died and surfaces that may be contaminated with bird saliva, mucous, or feces.
The Charles County Department of Health emphasizes the importance of immediate and thorough hand washing in case of contact with contaminated surfaces, birds, or bird fecal material. The best way to prevent avian influenza is to avoid potential exposure sources. The virus is primarily transmitted through infected birds’ saliva, mucous, and feces. Human infections, though rare, can occur when a sufficient quantity of the virus enters a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth or is inhaled. This could happen when the virus is airborne (in droplets or dust) or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching the mouth, eyes, or nose.
Human infections with bird flu viruses most frequently occur following close, prolonged, and unprotected contact with infected birds. The Department of Health advises wearing gloves or other protective gear when in proximity to potentially infected birds.
For more detailed information about highly pathogenic avian influenza, residents and visitors are encouraged to visit the CDC’s dedicated page on avian flu prevention: CDC Avian Flu Prevention.
This alert serves as a precautionary measure to safeguard the community’s health and prevent any potential spread of the HPAI virus in Charles County. Residents and visitors are advised to stay informed and follow the guidelines issued by health authorities.