A strain of highly contagious and deadly bird flu reaches Washington

The bird flu strain is highly contagious and deadly in chickens and is currently spreading through US poultry flocks.

PACIFIC COUNTY, Wash. – A highly contagious and deadly strain of bird flu, also known as bird flu, was detected this week in a backyard flock in Pacific County, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Washington State (WSDA).

The WSDA and the United States Department of Agriculture Animal Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) confirmed the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) on May 5.

HPAI is a strain of avian influenza (H5N1) that is highly contagious and deadly in chickens and is currently spreading in US poultry flocks.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPAI infections have a 90-100% mortality rate in chickens, affecting multiple internal organs and causing death within 48 hours.

In the case detected in Pacific County, the owner of the non-commercial flock reported sick birds and an increased mortality rate, according to the WSDA. The owner contacted the WSDA and samples were taken on May 4 to test for H5N1.

“The long and the short of it was that the producer noticed that one day a crow came along with some of his chickens,” said WSDA’s Dr. Dana Dobbs. “I think it was the next day that he literally described them dropping like flies.”

The Washington state veterinarian has quarantined the premises and birds on the property will be euthanized to prevent the spread of disease, according to the WSDA.

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This is the first case of H5N1 detected in Washington State this year.

In late April, the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recorded animal infections in more than two dozen states.

The WSDA said it had not detected H5N1 in commercial flocks in Washington state and there was no immediate public health concern.

“We haven’t diagnosed the virus anywhere else in our domestic poultry population,” said state veterinarian Dr. Amber Itle. One of the steps owners should take is to prevent contact between their birds and wild birds.”

For more information on bird flu, visit agr.wa.gov/birdflu.

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