Avian flu detected in Cowlitz County, online reporting of sick domestic birds launched
Courtesy of Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA)
OLYMPIA – With fall migration underway, Washington State is experiencing an increase in cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). This week, Cowlitz County joined the tally of herds with HPAI, bringing the total of domestic herds statewide to 34. An additional herd in Pierce County also tested positive.
In anticipation of the spike in cases in the fall, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has launched the online Sick Domestic Bird Reporting Tool this week to enable online reporting of sick and dead domestic birds. The online tool complements the WSDA’s existing sick bird reporting hotline as well as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s online reporting tool for wild birds..
Washington state veterinarian Dr. Amber Itle said bird owners should expect to continue to take additional biosecurity measures throughout the fall.
“Fall avian migration is starting, which means we’ll likely see more cases of avian flu again statewide,” she said.
After a detection, state and federal animal health officials monitor herds for HPAI symptoms within a 10 kilometer surveillance zone around the detection site. Flock owners in a surveillance area are encouraged to self-report the health of their birds using the online surveillance self-reporting tool. State veterinarians seek to contact every herd owner in a surveillance area to check on the health of their herd; self-declaration allows a veterinarian to make telephone contact to discuss biosecurity and what to look for without having to make contact in person.
State veterinarians say the biggest risk factor to date is direct contact with wild waterfowl. Since May 5, when the WSDA announced the first case in Washington, all 34 infected flocks have had contact with wild waterfowl.
Veterinarians also continue to recommend avoiding bringing birds to fairs, shows, poultry auctions and farm sales. Reinforced biosecurity measures can protect flocks, including keeping birds sheltered or away from ponds or water sources shared with wild waterfowl. With temperatures still warm as we approach the end of summer, Dr Itle advises herd owners on how to assess risk factors and continue safety while allowing birds out of extremely hot coops.
“It’s a double-edged sword; it is not safe to let them out of long periods where they can come into contact with the virus, but it is also not safe to leave them in a warm coop, ”added Dr Itle.
WSDA resources for flock owners to learn about avian influenza and protect their flocks include an avian flu web page, an interactive mapfrequently asked questions, a Facebook groupand biosecurity precautions when resuming exposures.
If your flock experiences sudden death or illness of multiple birds, use the new online reporting tool or call the WSDA’s Sick Bird Helpline at 1-800-606-3056.
Birds that are already dead should be double bagged and kept in an ice cooler until WSDA veterinarians can arrange for sampling. Sick or dead wild birds should not be touched or moved and can be reported using the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s online reporting tool..
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