December 5, 2022

Bird flu detected in Spokane County backyard flock, Washington Department of Agriculture reports

A dead bird from a non-commercial backyard flock in Spokane County has tested positive for a new, highly contagious strain of bird flu, the Washington Department of Agriculture reported Saturday.

The dead goose showed symptoms of the H5N1 virus before it died, and a private vet tested the bird. This is the second known case of the virus affecting birds in Washington, following its discovery Thursday in birds in Pierce County. Authorities are warning livestock owners to watch their birds carefully for symptoms, including a lack of fear of humans, abnormal gait and lethargy.

While the flu can be transmitted from birds to humans, the Centers for Disease Control notes that the risk of infection is currently low in the United States.

The rest of the herd from the affected property has been quarantined and euthanized to stop any potential spread, according to a press release from the Department of Agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture reports that poultry and eggs are still safe to eat in Washington. The virus has not yet been discovered in birds held commercially in Washington.

“This second detection demonstrates how not immune Washington is to this virus and I cannot stress enough the importance of avoiding exposure to wild waterfowl and shorebirds,” the official said. Washington state veterinarian Dr. Amber Itle in a statement. “One measure that homeowners should continue to take is to prevent contact between their birds and wild birds by eliminating access to ponds or standing water on your property and keeping different domestic species such as ducks and geese penned separately from chickens and turkeys.”

More information about the virus and the outbreak is available at agr.wa.gov/birdflu. Deaths or illnesses of domestic birds should be reported to the Department of Agriculture’s Avian Health Program by calling 1-800-606-3056.