Update: Bird Flu found in Eastlake Oroville flock

OROVILLE – A second flock of backyard poultry, this time near Oroville, was found to be infected with avian influenza,...

Quarantine of six mile radius in Eastlake area, birds destroyed

OROVILLE – A second flock of backyard poultry, this time near Oroville, was found to be infected with avian influenza, or bird flu last week and a six mile radius has been put under quarantine restrictions, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

The first cases in Okanogan County were discovered in late January. Forty pheasants and a dozen turkeys from game flock of about about 5000 birds in the Riverside area had contracted avian influenza. The birds in Riverside were tested and confirmed positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza on Tuesday, Jan. 27. The specific strain of avian influenza has not yet been identified, according to Hector Castro, with the WSDA.

On Thursday, Jan. 29, a team of veterinarians from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and WSDA began assessing the area for poultry flocks and contacting bird owners in the immediate vicinity of the infected flock. The WSDA, USDA and Okanogan County Public health are working with the flock owners in developing a response plan to this latest report, he said.

This site of the Riverside flock is under quarantine and no birds are being moved from the property. As recently as November, the flock owners had their birds tested and, at that time, they showed no sign of avian influenza in the flock.

On Sunday, Feb. 1 the WSDA adopted an emergency rule to establish a second quarantine zone in Okanogan County, covering an area of roughly six miles around a site in Oroville where avian influenza was confirmed in a flock of mixed poultry and other birds.

The quarantine restricts the movement of eggs, poultry or poultry products out of the identified zone with exemptions made for operations that obtain special permits and meet specific criteria. WSDA received test results on Saturday, Jan. 31 that found the flock was infected with the avian influenza virus, though additional tests will be needed to identify the specific strain, according to Castro. This second infected flock consists of about 100 birds, with at least half already succumbing to the disease.

Currently, WSDA has a third avian influenza quarantine zone in place in Clallam County, a response to an infected flock discovered there. Tests on birds from flocks in the surrounding area have all come back negative for avian influenza.

Because migratory wild waterfowl populations can carry the disease, including the highly-pathogenic strains of avian influenza (H5N2 and H5N8), WSDA is encouraging bird owners to protect their domestic birds from contact with wild waterfowl and remain vigilant in their biosecurity measures.

There is no immediate public health concern due to the avian influenza virus detected, however public health officials routinely contact owners of infected flocks as a precaution. 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, advises the WSDA.

Other outbreaks of the avian flu have been reported in Benton and Franklin counties, but involved much smaller numbers of poultry. WSDA continues to advise commercial poultry growers and backyard flock owners to be vigilant with biosecurity measures. This should include limiting contact between your birds and wild birds, especially waterfowl.

“We are wrapping up work in Benton and Franklin Counties where the infected flock was very near the border of two counties…. we lifted the quarantine after three weeks,” Castro said.

WSDA has determined that the avian influenza detected in the two Benton County backyard flocks in December does not appear to have spread beyond those two sites. To reach this conclusion, a team of veterinarians with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and WSDA visited approximately 1,800 premises in the quarantine area and tested samples from birds at more than 70 locations. All samples tested negative for avian influenza. As a result of this action and lifting of the quarantine, there are no longer restrictions on the movement of poultry or poultry products within the areas of Benton or Franklin counties. Such restrictions remain in place in parts of Clallam County after a flock was confirmed infected with the H5N2 avian influenza virus on Jan. 16.

Three strains of avian influenza have now been detected in Washington state:

  • H5N8 – found in a falcon fed wild duck
  • H5N2 – detected in a wild duck in Whatcom County, in two backyard flocks in Benton County, and in a backyard flock in Clallam County.
  • H5N1 – detected in a wild duck in Whatcom County

“None of the bird flu in Washington State is associated with human illness,” said Castro.

The sub-type of the H5N1 virus detected in Whatcom County is genetically different from the virus with the same designation that has circulated in Europe and Asia in recent years. The Eurasian H5N1 has infected people. To date, there have been no cases in the United States of humans becoming ill from any of these viruses.

Deaths or illness among domestic birds should be reported to the WSDA Avian Health Program at 1-800-606-3056.

While the risk to the public is low, it is not zero. People with known close contact with infected birds, including owners of infected flocks, will be contacted by public health officials as a precautionary measure.

See related article: First Case of Bird Flu found in county

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