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Bird Flu Hits First Oregon Poultry Flock

22 December 2014

OREGON, US - The state authorities have activated an avian influenza response plan after the highly pathogenic H5N8 virus was confirmed in a backyard poultry flock in Winston.

The State of Oregon has activated a multi-agency response plan following the confirmation of highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza in domestic birds in Douglas County. The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is the lead state agency responding to the incident, working closely with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Oregon Health Authority. The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) will play a key role in the response as well.

There is no immediate public health concern due to the avian influenza virus detected in Oregon. H5N8 virus has been found in other parts of the world and has not caused any human infection to date. 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.

The H5N8 avian influenza virus was confirmed by USDA in guinea fowl and chickens from a small backyard poultry flock in Winston, Oregon. The flock of approximately 100 birds has access to the outdoors. A pond and a marsh on the premises are frequented by migratory birds. The virus has not been found in commercial poultry anywhere in the US. Surveillance for avian influenza is ongoing in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations.

The finding in Oregon was quickly reported and identified due to increased awareness of avian influenza in light of the high path avian influenza findings in wild birds in Washington earlier this week. This H5N8 virus is the same virus that was found in a Washington captive gyrfalcon.

ODA is advising commercial poultry growers and backyard flock owners to be vigilant with biosecurity measures and surveillance.

ODA’s State Veterinarian, Dr Brad LeaMaster, said: “Steps are being taken to contain the disease and we have not diagnosed avian influenza elsewhere in Oregon’s domestic poultry population, but the presence of the virus in migratory waterfowl poses a potential risk to our backyard poultry.

“This event underscores the importance of biosecurity for backyard bird owners. We strongly encourage owners to take biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. That includes preventing contact between their birds and wild birds. We also want them to monitor their flock closely and report sick birds.”

Backyard flock owners can report sick birds to the State Veterinarian’s office at 1-800-347-7028 or can call USDA toll free at 1-866-536-7593.

Oregon’s commercial poultry industry has a robust avian influenza testing program and ODA conducts weekly surveillance testing and health inspections at the state’s only live bird market in Woodburn. In addition, wild bird mortality surveillance is routinely conducted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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