Six birds test positive for avian flu in Orange County
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MIAMI, Fla — Orange County’s first confirmed case of the deadly avian flu has been confirmed after three people tested positive for the virus, the Orange County Health Department said Friday.
A county health officer had called the three for testing, but they refused, authorities said.
Orange County Health Director Tony Petillo said officials don’t consider the three to be at risk of catching the virus.
“They’re not at risk for the flu, per se,” he said.
The three test positive for the flu A H5N8 virus from the highly pathogenic avian influenza strain of bird flu, according to health officials.
The county is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the spread of the virus, said Dr. Tom Skinner, health officer.
The strain of the bird flu has been found in birds other than chickens, and officials are investigating to see if the virus found its way into humans through either infected wild birds or by handling poultry that had been ill.
“Avian influenza can be transmitted through contaminated water, or via direct animal-to-human contact,” Petillo said. “This is something that we take very seriously and we’re being diligent about making sure that the people who do have contact with these birds, as recommended by the health department, are being tested and are not spreading the virus to the public.”
The three people who were sick this week were not showing any symptoms before their test results came back, he said.
“They presented a variety of symptoms – from fever and cough to vomiting and diarrhea – but they were asymptomatic when they were tested yesterday,” Petillo said.
The Health Department is asking the public to be vigilant about protecting their health as they return to work after the holiday weekend.
“It is very important that anyone who may have been in contact with an infected person is tested