Bird flu detected in Cowlitz County flock; state launches online reporting tool | Local

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A Cowlitz County domestic flock tested positive for bird flu this week, and state officials urge precaution ahead of what they consider will probably be a surge in cases in the autumn.

Bird owners should expect to proceed extra “biosecurity measures” — resembling stopping contact with wild birds — through the autumn, Washington State Veterinarian Dr. Amber Itle said in a news release.

“The autumn avian migration is starting, meaning we’re prone to see more bird flu cases throughout the state again,” she said.

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In anticipation of the rise, the Washington State Department of Agriculture launched a domestic sick bird online reporting tool this week. Owners can also report sick birds to the WSDA’s hotline at 1-800-606-3056.

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Anyone who encounters sick or dead wild birds can report them on the state Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Avian flu is contagious and might kill a farm’s chickens, pheasants, turkeys and other domestic fowl, in response to the state Department of Health. A high pathogenic virus, what’s currently spreading, leads to a better death rate in some poultry species,

The largest risk factor is direct contact with wild waterfowl, which all 34 infected domestic flocks had before becoming ailing, in response to the WSDA.

This strain of avian influenza first was detected in early May in a small backyard flock in Pacific County.

Itle, the state veterinarian, advises flock owners to evaluate risk aspects and proceed safety while allowing birds outside of hot coops as summer temperatures proceed.

“It’s a double-edged sword; it’s not protected to allow them to out for long periods of time where they might are available in contact with the virus, nevertheless it’s also not protected to depart them in a hot coop,” she said.

State veterinarians also recommend owners avoid bringing birds to fairs, exhibits, poultry auctions and on-farm sales.

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Earlier this week, organizers canceled the Kalama Small Animal and Poultry Market’s fall sale, citing bird flu risks. In May, the spring market also was canceled.

After detection, state and federal animal health officials monitor for bird flu symptoms in flocks inside a ten kilometer (6.2 mile) zone of the sick flock. Owners on this radius are encouraged to self-report their birds’ health online.

WSDA has veterinarians who can test a flock at no charge — often inside 24 hours — so long as it receives a bird flu report and a state veterinarian believes a flock is infected. Any flock found with the bird flu will probably be euthanized with the prospect for owners to get compensation through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.