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County Administrator's Office

For Immediate Release

Avian Flu emergency ends in Sonoma County; recovery underway for local poultry farmers

SANTA ROSA, CA | June 04, 2024

The Board of Supervisors today voted to terminate an emergency proclamation that has been in effect since Dec. 5, 2023, in response to the outbreak of avian flu in Sonoma County. The outbreak was first detected at two local commercial poultry farms in late November 2023 and resulted in the immediate euthanizing of 250,000 birds to protect other flocks in the region and elsewhere in California. Overall, the virus affected 11 commercial producers in Sonoma County resulting in 1.2 million birds being euthanized at an estimated loss of $20 million in value and a reduction in egg production. 

Since Feb. 1, avian flu has not been detected in commercial flocks within Sonoma County and commercial producers’ quarantine periods have expired. With repopulation and recovery plans underway, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner recommended that the Board of Supervisors terminate the Proclamation of Local Emergency.

“The avian flu has devastated local poultry farmers. The avian flu has also had a tremendous impact on the production of local food, local feed suppliers, veterinarians, and the transportation sector,” said Supervisor David Rabbitt, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “Now we turn to the recovery process and will continue to do everything possible to support our multi-generational family farmers.”

In partnership with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures and the Department of Emergency Management established a multi-department, multi-agency coordination team in response to the incident. The emergency proclamation by the Board of Supervisors provided additional public safety and emergency services to mitigate the effects of the disaster, including local emergency assistance for businesses that were impacted by the disease outbreak. 

The spread of the virus is promoted by wild birds, especially wild waterfowl such as  ducks and geese, though other wild bird species can also be a source of spread. As wild waterfowl migrate in the fall season, there is increased movement of birds that are potential carriers of the virus. 

Although avian influenza is highly contagious and is often fatal for birds, the detected strain is considered low risk to human health, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Clinical signs of avian influenza in birds include sudden death; trouble breathing; clear runny discharge from the nose, mouth and eyes; lethargy; decreased food and water intake; swelling eyes, head, wattles or combs; discolored or bruised comb, wattles or legs; and stumbling, falling or a twisted neck. 

Any unusual or suspicious dead wild birds should be reported to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife here. Poultry owners with flocks that have experienced any unusual or suspicious illness or deaths should call the Sick Bird Hotline at (866) 922-BIRD (2473). 

For public inquiries regarding highly pathogenic avian influenza in California, please call (916) 217-7517 or send an email to

Media Contacts:
Dan Virkstis, communications specialist 
(707) 565-3040