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Office of the State Veterinarian

May 7, 2022 | Contact: WA State Veterinarian (360) 902-1878

Media contact: Amber Betts 360-628-3477 Public contact: (800) 606-3056

Second backyard flock tests positive for bird flu in Washington

OLYMPIA – 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.

Visit agr.wa.gov/birdflu or USDA’s Defend the Flock program for more information about avian influenza and protecting flocks from this disease.

For a video statement from Dr. Amber Itle, please visit our YouTube channel.

USDA APHIS National Confirmations of HPAI in Domestic Flocks and Wild Birds

2022 Confirmations of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Commercial and Backyard Flocks

2022 Detections of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Wild Birds

July 29, 2021 | Contact: State Veterinarians Office (360) 902-1878

USDA Confirms African Swine Fever in the Dominican Republic

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory has confirmed African swine fever (ASF) in samples collected from pigs in the Dominican Republic through an existing cooperative surveillance program.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has numerous interlocking safeguards in place to prevent ASF from entering the United States. Pork and pork products from the Dominican Republic are currently prohibited entry as a result of existing classical swine fever restrictions. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is increasing inspections of flights from the Dominican Republic to ensure travelers do not bring prohibited products to the United States. CBP will also be ensuring that garbage from these airplanes are properly disposed of to prevent the transmission of ASF.

USDA is committed to assisting the Dominican Republic in dealing with ASF, is offering continued testing support, and will consult with them on additional steps or actions to support response and mitigation measures. We will also offer similar help to Haiti, which borders the Dominican Republic and is at high risk for ASF detections.

The USDA continues to work diligently with partners including CBP and the U.S. swine industry to prevent ASF from entering the United States. ASF is not a threat to human health, cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans and it is not a food safety issue.

Employ Biosecurity to Prevent African Swine Fever

The Washington State Department of Agriculture is monitoring the global African Swine Fever situation closely with the recent announcement of ASF in the Dominican Republic. African swine fever is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and feral swine of all ages. ASF is not a threat to human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans. It is not a food safety issue.

This is the first case of ASF in the Western Hemisphere in recent history. Additional outbreaks across Asia and Europe pose an additional threat to the US pork industry. ASF is found in countries around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. More recently, it has spread through China, Mongolia and Vietnam, as well as within parts of the European Union. While this disease in not currently present in the United States nor has it ever been diagnosed here, it serves as a reminder that we live in a global economy and disease threats are ever present.

Strong biosecurity represents the best chance for protecting swine operations and the US swine industry. All livestock owners should employ strict biosecurity measures and if you “see something, say something”.

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