Bird flu detected in ducklings in Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
( Hill )
The National Park Service (NPS) said on Wednesday that mallard ducklings at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool were found to have the H5N1 bird flu virus, but added the risk to the public remains “low.”
The report is D.C.’s first confirmation of bird flu, which is highly contagious among some wild birds and can be deadly for some species.
“However, to be safe, visitors should avoid handling live or dead birds or coming into contact with their droppings as the virus can be easily moved around on shoes,” NPS said in a statement.
Officials have only detected one human case in the United States, with the current outbreak impacting commercial and backyard birds in 13 states and wild birds in 14 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The park service also recommended visitors keep their pets on leashes and not allow them to interact with dead birds and wildlife. NPS asked visitors to report observations of dead birds or other sick wildlife to park staff.
The CDC has stressed the risk from bird flu remains low to humans, and remains primarily an animal health issue. The virus can be deadly to some avian species, like bald eagles and vultures.
“Because flu viruses are constantly changing, CDC will continue to monitor these viruses to look for genetic or epidemiologic changes suggesting they might spread more easily to and between people,” the public health agency said in a March update on the virus.
A man in Colorado tested positive for the virus in late April, the only known human case in the U.S. He reported feeling fatigued for a few days before recovering.
Farms across the country have resorted to killing millions of hens and other birds, with the federal response being largely managed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).