March 30, 2023

Avian Flu Discovered in Wild Birds in Washington State

The USDA released a press bulletin stating that highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza has been confirmed in wild birds in Washington state. The virus H5N2 has been found in Northern pintail ducks. This virus has decimated poultry farms in Canada and Asia. No bird flu virus has been found in commercial poultry in the U.S. and no human cases have been detected in the U.S., Canada, or internationally.

chickensThe government stresses that the birds are safe to eat if they are “properly handled” and cooked to 165°F as verified with a meat thermometer. Therein lies the problem.

The sick birds were in Whatcom County, Washington. Two strains were found: H5N2 in the ducks and HPAI H5N8 in captive Gyrfalcons that were fed wild birds killed by hunters.

USDA is working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, state officials, and the U.S. Department of the Interior to add surveillance and testing of wild and commercial birds in the area in Washington.

Wild birds can be carriers of these viruses without appearing ill. Always avoid contact with sick or dead poultry or wildlife. If you do come into contact with them, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing, especially before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

All bird owners should practice good biosecurity, including reporting sick birds to state and federal officials and preventing contact between your birds and wild birds. HPAI would have a significant economic effect if it infects U.S. domestic poultry.

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