SWAMPSCOTT — Avian flu is “running rampant” among beaches in the North Shore, and police here are warning residents to be wary of injured or sick aquatic birds after receiving an increase in calls from residents reporting injured or sick birds.
“Animal Control has informed us that there is a significant increase in Avian flu among aquatic birds in our area. We have been advised to stay away from and not touch these aquatic birds,” Swampscott police wrote in a Facebook post last week.
Beaches in Lynn, Nahant, and Marblehead have also been affected by the increase, police said.
Avian flu is a naturally occurring virus among aquatic birds that can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species, according to the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services. Although avian influenza viruses do not normally infect humans, sporadic human infections with avian influenza viruses have occurred, most following direct or close contact with infected poultry. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
But, the office said, the spread of avian influenza viruses between humans has been “limited, inefficient and not sustained.”
“However, because of the possibility that avian influenza A viruses could change and gain the ability to spread easily between people, monitoring for human infection and person-to-person transmission is extremely important for public health,” the office said in a statement.
Police said that water birds infected with Avian Flu might exhibit seizure-like symptoms, difficulty walking, lethargy, or twisting of the head or neck.