The seemingly distant-sounding threat of H5N1 avian flu is now a reality here in San Francisco, as two chickens at a local live animal market have tested positive for the virus, and traces of it were detected in SF’s wastewater.

You may have heard there’s a bird flu outbreak in at least nine states in the US, and you may not have worried about it much, because it largely just affects birds and dairy cows. And livestock is not really much of an industry in San Francisco, so the H5N1 avian flu virus would not seem to be of risk to us in any way here. Right?

It might be time to reevaluate that assessment. The Chronicle reports that two chickens tested positive for bird flu at a live bird market in San Francisco, according to a Monday announcement from the SF Department of Public Health (SFDPH). And on top of that, fragments of H5N1 virus have turned up in San Francisco wastewater samples, making SF the first city in California to have bird flu detected in our wastewater.

But officials are insisting this is no cause for alarm.  “The most important thing to note is there is no threat to public health at this time,” said SFDPH director of Communicable Disease Prevention & Control Dr. George Han told the Chronicle. “There have been no human cases.”

Well, there have been no human cases in San Francisco. But nationwide, three people who work with dairy cows have been infected with a strain of the virus, and suffered symptoms of an eye infection called conjunctivitis.

And that business of traces of bird flu in the wastewater sure sounds concerning. But it’s not certain those traces are from human waste, as there may be bird poop or chicken poop in those wastewater samples.

“We take in everything that goes into the storm drains, including any animal waste from birds or any other animal,” Han said to the Chronicle

There is no risk to eating cooked poultry, as bird flu cannot survive temperatures of greater than 165° Fahrenheit, or 74° Celsius. If you have a pet bird, you’re encouraged to practice good hygiene, clean the cage regularly, and monitor your bird’s health.

Related: Mysterious Surge in Bay Area Sea Lion Pup Deaths Stumps Researchers [SFNews]

Image: Finn Mund via Unsplash