Avian flu found on Olympic Peninsula

At least two cases of Avian Flu have been confirmed in two flocks in Clallam County.

At least a half-dozen cases have been reported in eight flocks across the state, Kellie Henwood, program coordinator for the WSU Regional Small Farms Program, said Friday.

The state veterinarian, Dr. Amber Itle, quarantined both premises and the birds that have not already succumbed to the virus will be euthanized.

“With no vaccine or treatment available for bird flocks, currently the only way to control the virus spread among commercial or backyard flocks is to euthanize or depopulate the flock as soon as tests are confirmed…This is the best way to contain the spread and decrease overall animal deaths,” according to an article in the WSU Insider.

The two Clallam County cases were confirmed by the state Department of Agriculture after two flock owners reported sudden illness and death among their flocks. The two separate flocks included one flock with nearly 100 chickens and another flock of about 30 different species of domestic birds.

Owners of both Clallam County flocks said that their birds had direct contact with wild waterfowl, which are considered to be carriers.

Their locations in Clallam County were not available on Friday.

As of Friday, no cases of Avian flu had been detected in Jefferson County.

Cases were detected in Pacific, Pierce and Spokane counties May 5, Henwood said.

“Since this morning additional cases have been detected in Okanogan and Whatcom counties … None in Jefferson, that I know of, but that could change,” Henwood said.

Signs that a bird may have avian flu include signs similar to the flu in humans, such as coughing, sneezing, sinus inflammation, and nasal and eye discharge as well as decreased egg production.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said that this year has been the deadliest year of avian flu since 2015, with nearly 38 million domestic and wild birds have died from contracting the virus.

Veterinarians recommend flock owners keep their birds away from wild waterfowl for a few weeks until the wild waterfowl have concluded their migration, that they separate and quarantine birds by species and keep them away from shared water sources like ponds and standing water.

Though it is rare for a human to catch avian flu, it is recommended that the sharing or selling of eggs cease temporarily to prevent the spread of the virus.

“There is no immediate public health concern due to the avian influenza virus detected. As always, the meat from both wild game birds and domestic poultry should be properly cooked,” Henwood said.

“Avian influenza is here,” Itle said in a press release as he cautioned all flock owners to take steps to protect their birds.

Report unusual, multiple deaths or illness among domestic birds to the state Department of Agriculture Avian Health Program at 1-800-606-3056. Dead or sick wild birds should be reported to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.