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Health - Public Health News

Posted on: May 13, 2022

Avian Influenza detected in Whatcom County backyard flock; Prevention important for domestic birds

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has confirmed Whatcom County’s first case of avian influenza in a backyard flock. Bird owners should take measures now to prevent contact between their animals and wild birds to prevent infection. People should not touch sick or infected birds - wild or domestic. 

Avian influenza rarely infects humans and requires direct contact with infected birds. Chicken, eggs, and other poultry and poultry products are safe to eat when properly handled and cooked.

Report sick or dead birds:

  • Report sick/dead domestic birds to Washington State Department of Agriculture's Avian Health Program: 1-800-606-3056.

  • Report online sick/dead wild birds suspected of avian flu to the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife 

The disease is often deadly in poultry species such as chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. Avian influenza can be transmitted from wild birds to domestic birds through direct contact, fecal contamination, transmission through the air, environmental contamination, and shared water sources. The virus can also spread from farm to farm via shared equipment. 

How to protect your flock:

  • Flock owners should keep their birds in pens to avoid contact with wild birds.

  • Do not share equipment between farms.

  • Follow standard practices for safe handling of poultry and eggs. 

  • Visit the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Avian Health Program website for information on how to best protect your flock.

As a precautionary measure, people with known contact with avian influenza-infected birds are being contacted by public health officials to monitor for the development of symptoms and testing if needed.

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