Charles County

Avian Flu In Local Goose Population

November 20, 2023

The Charles County Department of Health has been alerted by the Maryland Department of Health, Office of the State Veterinarian of the possibility of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) infection in dead geese collected in Waldorf. CDC considers the current risk to the general public from the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in wild birds and poultry to be low. 

Due to the die-off of wild geese in our area, we are reminding our residents and visitors to do the following:

  • As a general precaution, whenever possible people should avoid direct contact with wild birds and observe them only from a distance.
  • Wild birds can be infected with avian (bird) influenza (flu) A viruses even if they don’t look sick. 
  • Avoid unprotected contact with domestic birds (poultry) that look sick or have died.
  • Do not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva, mucous, or feces from wild or domestic birds.
  • If you do come into contact with contaminated surfaces, birds or bird fecal material, wash your hands immediately and thoroughly. 

The best way to prevent avian (bird) influenza (flu) is to avoid sources of exposure whenever possible. Infected birds shed bird flu virus in their saliva, mucous, and feces. People rarely get bird flu; however, human infections with bird flu viruses can happen when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled. This can happen when virus is in the air (in droplets or possibly dust) and a person breathes it in, or when a person touches something that has virus on it and then touches their mouth, eyes or nose. Bird flu virus infections in people happen most often after close, prolonged and unprotected (no gloves or other protective wear) contact with infected birds and then the person touches their mouth, eyes, or nose.