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Contact: Mike Litterst, 202-306-4166
Contact: Jeffrey Olson, 970-657-6309
WASHINGTON – The virus that causes highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), a contagious disease affecting wild and domestic birds, has been found in mallard ducklings at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. This is the first confirmation of HPAI in the nation’s capital, though it has previously been detected in domestic and wild birds in the nearby states of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. The currently circulating HPAI virus is considered to pose a low risk to the general public according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To date there has been only one documented human case of the currently circulating HPAI in the U.S. 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. Visitors should minimize contact with waterfowl feces and should clean and disinfect their shoes prior to entering areas with domestic poultry or pet birds. Pets should be kept leashed and not allowed to interact with live or dead birds or other wildlife. Visitors can assist by reporting observations of sick and dead birds, or other ill wildlife, to park staff.
About Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza
HPAI is spread through respiratory and fecal secretions, contact with contaminated environments, or direct bird to bird interactions, particularly among waterfowl like ducks and geese. HPAI is highly contagious among some wild birds and can be deadly for some avian species, such as bald eagles or vultures. Mallards are less likely than many other waterfowl species to show signs of disease and can be infected without appearing sick. The term “highly pathogenic” refers to the significant illness and mortality in poultry and other domestic birds that results from infection with this virus.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has numerous online resources about HPAI, including actions on how to keep poultry and pet birds safe, advice on what to do if you find a dead wild bird, and national reporting on HPAI virus detections in poultry and wild birds. Additionally, the USGS National Wildlife Health Center maintains a map that portrays locations of HPAI virus detections across the United States and Canada.
Last updated: June 8, 2022