30 swans killed by bird flu at Lake of the Lillies in Point Pleasant Beach – PhillyVoice.com

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November 02, 2022
The H5N1 bird flu, first detected in the U.S. late last year, has killed about 30 swans at Lake of the Lillies in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. The virus is rarely transmitted to people. The photo above is a stock image.
A swan population at a Jersey Shore lake has been ravaged by the avian influenza outbreak that has been spreading among birds throughout the United States. 
In recent days, approximately 30 swans, a duck and a goose have died at the Lake of the Lillies in Point Pleasant Beach, Ocean County. 
"We have confirmed cases of bird flu at Lake of the Lilies," Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kantira wrote on Facebook. "While the risk of human transmission is low, please stay away from the area for the time being until it has run its course amongst the swans and geese there."
Outbreaks of the H5N1 bird flu were first detected in the U.S. late last year and spread rapidly this spring. The flu variant is different from the one that killed more than 50 million birds in the U.S., mostly at poultry farms in the Midwest, in 2015. 
The current bird flu has affected a much wider territory in the U.S. and is impacting a broader range of species. The virus also has lasted longer into the year, outliving the summer timeline that scientists hoped would keep it contained. Fall migration has threatened to spread the disease further, taking a huge toll on poultry farming and wild birds, including endangered species.
Kantira told NJ.com that many of the infected birds at Lake of the Lillies appear to be without symptoms. Point Pleasant Beach Police asked residents to avoid sick, injured or dead birds while the matter is being investigated.
The outbreak in Point Pleasant Beach is one of several that have happened in New Jersey over the past few months.
In Lacey Township, Ocean County, 80 chickens, ducks and domestic geese needed to be euthanized to stop the spread of the virus at the Popcorn Park Animal Refuge late last month. The refuge also closed temporarily and stopped selling food to guests.
Precautions have led to exhibit closures at the Cape May County Zoo and Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange. And in August, more than 100 black vultures were found dead along a stretch of the Lafayette trail in Sussex County, prompting the area to be closed to people. 
In Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Zoo also has closed bird exhibits. 
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported only one case of human transmission of the current variant of avian influenza. A Colorado prison inmate, who was on work release at a job that involved culling chickens at a poultry farm, tested positive for the virus in April. There have been questions about whether the man was legitimately infected, or if his nasal swab simply picked up a detectable load of the virus.
Though the avian flu is a remote risk to people, the virus has been found in a number of other species, including seals, dolphins and foxes, according to a database from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some of these cases have been fatal.
The H5N1 virus first surfaced in poultry in China's Guangdong province in 1996. It has since evolved to affect a wider array of bird species and other animals that hunt infected birds. The virus is primarily spread by wild aquatic birds, but periodically finds its way into domestic poultry and other species. Some variants don't spread very quickly, but the current variant has established a foothold in large parts of Europe and North America. 
In Iowa, an outbreak at an egg facility will require more than 1 million hens to be killed to contain the spread of the virus, the state's Department of Agriculture reported Monday.
Lab research that has been conducted over the years to study the virus has drawn closer scrutiny during the current outbreak, prompting questions about the safety of such experiments, the Intercept reported this week. 
Michael Tanenbaum
PhillyVoice Staff
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