Environment, Farming, News

Oregon likely to face more bird flu cases during migrations

Oregon is likely to face more cases of a deadly bird flu with fall migrations of geese, pelicans and other birds, state agriculture officials say.

The state’s latest cases were announced by the Oregon Department of Agriculture in noncommercial flocks of chickens and ducks in Tillamook and Douglas counties. So far, 14 flocks in Coos, Deschutes, Lane, Linn, Polk, Tillamook and Douglas counties have been infected. Officials have euthanized all of the birds – nearly 1,300 – to prevent the virus from spreading.

It is often carried by wild migratory birds which are on the move now in Oregon skies.

“It is very possible Oregon will have more confirmed cases this fall,” agriculture department spokeswoman Andrea Cantu-Schomus told the Capital Chronicle.

Oregon’s agriculture department monitors the presence in the state of the current version of avian influenza, otherwise known as HPAI or highly pathogenic avian influenza. That includes enacting quarantines in areas when meat or eggs from infected flocks are sold to prevent the spread of the virus.

This virus is highly infectious and deadly for birds, causing high mortality rates, and it can spread to other wildlife, but it does not pose a problem to people. Poultry can pose a risk if it’s undercooked. It needs to be heated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill harmful bugs like salmonella and E. coli.

Nationwide, the USDA collects and tests samples from wild birds in the North American flyways to track the viral spread. This year, the virus first emerged on the West Coast in a bald eagle in British Columbia in March after infecting birds in Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Delaware, Kentucky and Indiana. It has since spread to almost every state, including Alaska and Hawaii, according to the USDA.

The virus is devastating for flocks. It poses a big threat to poultry commercial operations, which are worth $15.8 million in Oregon, according to state officials. All Oregon cases have been in backyard flocks.

Agriculture officials urged owners to practice biosecurity to protect flocks:

  • Keep wild birds away from your property.
  • Use a designated pair of shoes around flocks, wash clothing after visiting the birds and use disinfectants.
  • Disinfect cages, poultry equipment and car tires after visiting a farm store, poultry swap or other location with birds present.
  • Keep new birds separate from existing flocks for 30 days and quarantine returning birds from flocks after visiting a poultry swap or other event.
  • Wash hands before and after bird handling and do not share poultry supplies with others​.​

 The state agriculture department also asked owners to report any deaths or illnesses.

Report suspected cases

Owners should call 503-986-4711 or 800-347-7028 to inform the state about any potentially infected flocks. To report the death of wild birds, call 866-968-2600 or email [email protected].

The state also has an avian influenza webpage, which is also in Spanish

This story originally appeared in the Oregon Capital Chronicle and is republished here under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. Read more stories at oregoncapitalchronicle.com.

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