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ODFW watching for avian influenza in wild birds after detection in backyard poultry near Winston

December 19, 2014

No immediate threat to human health – Report dead birds to hotline

SALEM, Ore.— ODFW is on the lookout for avian influenza in wild birds in Oregon after the virus was detected in a small backyard poultry flock near Winston, Ore. (Douglas County).

ODFW is part of the State of Oregon’s multi-agency response to highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza, along with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Oregon Health Authority and the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS).

ODFW is asking the public to report dead wild birds, especially waterbirds (geese, ducks, shorebirds), to its Wildlife Health hotline at 866-968-2600 or email Wildlife.Health@state.or.us.

The virus strain, known as H5N8, poses no immediate threat to human health. It has been circulating in Europe and East Asia and has not made people sick. However, the virus is contagious among birds and can be deadly to domestic birds and rarely, wild birds.

The H5N8 strain detected was found in a captive falcon earlier this week in Whatcom County, Washington state. Another avian influenza strain, H5N2, was also detected in a wild bird (northern pintail duck) in Washington state.

Wild birds have evolved with avian influenza and usually don’t die or exhibit signs of sickness from the virus. There have been no recent wild bird die-offs related to avian influenza in Oregon.

This time of year, migratory waterbirds (ducks, geese, shorebirds) undergo a major north-south migration along the Pacific Flyway, which extends from Alaska to South America. Wild birds coming in contact with susceptible domestic birds (chickens, turkeys, Guinea fowl) could spread the virus.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) strongly encourages backyard poultry producers to prevent contact between their birds and wild birds. Any sick domestic birds should be reported to the State Veterinarian’s office at 1-800-347-7028 or USDA at 1-866-536-7593.

Hunters: practice safe bird handling

The strain of avian influenza identified in Oregon and Washington states is no immediate threat to human health. But hunters should always practice safe bird handling and cooking techniques:

  • Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling and cleaning game birds.
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke or touch your face when handling birds.
  • Keep the game bird and its juices away from other foods.
  • Thoroughly clean knives and any other equipment or surfaces that touch birds. Use a solution of one third cup of chlorine bleach per one gallon of water.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling birds (or with alcohol-based hand products if your hands are not visibly soiled).
  • Cook all game meat thoroughly (up to at least 165° F) to kill disease organisms and parasites. Use a food thermometer to ensure the inside of the bird has reached at least 165° F.

Upland bird and waterfowl (duck, goose) hunting seasons are open in Oregon through the end of January. Goose hunting is also open in parts of the state during February and March.

For more information on avian influenza in wild birds, visit USGS National Wildlife Health Center:
http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/avian_influenza/

For information on avian influenza in domestic birds, visit ODA’s website: http://bit.do/ORbirdflu

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Contact:
Michelle Dennehy
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Michelle.N.Dennehy@state.or.us
(503) 947-6022 / (503) 931-2748

 

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