OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) have confirmed the state’s second detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) – also known as bird flu – in a non-commercial backyard flock in Spokane County. The affected flock is a mix of about 75 geese, chickens, ducks and guinea fowl.
A private veterinarian submitted a dead goose that exhibited unusual behavior prior to death, including walking abnormally, shaking its head, not moving, and exhibiting a lack of fear of humans. The owner reported other sick birds and an increased rate of mortality. The presence of H5N1 avian influenza virus in the flock was detected by WSU Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL) and confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory on May 7. This is the second detection of the virus in Washington state this year, the first being confirmed on May 5 in Pacific County also in a backyard flock. There are no detections in commercial poultry in the state.
The Washington state veterinarian quarantined the affected premise and birds on the property have been euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system.
There is no immediate public health concern due to the avian influenza virus detected. Avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which remain safe to eat. As always, both wild and domestic poultry should be properly cooked.
WSDA is advising commercial poultry farmers and backyard flock owners to be vigilant with biosecurity measures and surveillance. Deaths or illness among domestic birds should be reported to the WSDA Avian Health Program at 1-800-606-3056. For wild birds, please use the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s online reporting tool.
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. Both wild and domestic waterfowl can be infected with the virus and not show signs of disease.
“This second detection demonstrates how Washington is not immune to this virus and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to avoid exposure to wild waterfowl and shorebirds,” Dr. Amber Itle, state veterinarian, said. “One step owners should continue to take is preventing contact between their birds and wild birds by eliminating access to ponds or standing water on your property and keeping different domestic species like ducks and geese penned separately from chickens and turkeys.”
Reducing or eliminating contact between wild birds and domestic flocks is the best way to protect domestic birds from this disease. Bird owners can bring their flocks inside and undercover to protect them from wild waterfowl.