Avian flu detected in California mountain lions as outbreak grows

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The Eurasian strain is highly pathogenic Bird flu Wildlife health experts confirmed Tuesday that two mountain lions have been discovered in California.

the California Department of Fish and Wildlife He said the remains of two mountain lions — a mother and her female cub — were collected from Mono Lake in Mono County in December and January.

California mountain lion

California mountain lion (nps.gov)

The samples were submitted to the California Laboratory for Animal Health and Food Safety in Davis for initial testing. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories of the US Department of Agriculture confirmed the discovery of bird flu last week.

Mountain lions are the second species of wild mammal known to have been infected with avian influenza, or HPAI H5N1, in California since the virus was reported in wild birds in July 2022. To date, the virus has been found in 45 counties statewide, the CDFW said.

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More than 700,000 game birds have been killed after bird flu cases reported in Iowa led to the expected slaughter of an entire flock of turkeys.

More than 700,000 game birds have been killed after bird flu cases reported in Iowa led to the expected slaughter of an entire flock of turkeys. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Dr. Jaime Rudd, CDFW’s Pesticide and Disease Investigation Specialist Wildlife Health Laboratory The researchers said they do not expect avian flu to have a “population-level” impact on California mountain lions or other carnivorous mammals.

“It appears that the main route of transmission from carnivores is through eating infected birds, usually waterfowl such as geese,” said Rudd. “Biologists who follow the movements of these mountain lions have noticed that they preyed on wild Canada geese in the past.”

The CDFW says infection of wild mammals with avian influenza viruses is relatively rare. Scattered finds have been made in carnivorous mammals in the United States and Canada, including foxes, bobcats, raccoons, skunks, and bears.

In this photo released by Cambodia's Ministry of Health, Cambodia's Animal Health Officer, right, and a military police officer put up posters about awareness of the threats of the H5N1 virus in hopes of educating villagers to look after their health in Cambodia's eastern Pri Vieng province, February 23, 2023.

In this photo released by Cambodia’s Ministry of Health, Cambodia’s Animal Health Officer, right, and a military police officer put up posters about awareness of the threats of the H5N1 virus in hopes of educating villagers to look after their health in Cambodia’s eastern Pri Vieng province, February 23, 2023. (Ministry of Health of Cambodia via AP)

Discovery comes as a file Ongoing outbreaks of avian influenza It cost the government more than $660 million and added to the pain of consumers at the grocery store after more than 58 million birds were slaughtered to curb the spread of the virus.

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Plus the cost of government response it The USDA piled up and soaring egg pricesand chicken and turkey, the farmers who raise these animals have easily lost more than $1 billion, according to some estimates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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