Last month we saw HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza) H5N2 and H5N8 appear in North America for the first time. Initially in an outbreak of H5N2 in Canadian poultry, and then detected in a small number of wild and migratory birds in the Pacific Northwest.
The H5N8 strain appears very similar to the Eurasian H5N8 strain affecting poultry in Korea, China, and Europe, while the H5N2 appears to be a cousin of the Asian H5N1 virus.
Although neither strain is currently believed to pose a serious public health threat, they are of great concern to poultry operations. Over the past year Korea has been forced to cull more than 15 million birds due to this virus.
So far we’ve seen reports of these HPAI viruses in Washington State, Oregon, and (yesterday) in California – all part of the Pacific American Flyway.
No American commercial poultry flocks have been affected as yet, but yesterday Washington State agriculture officials culled a second backyard flock where domestic birds were dying, and avian flu is strongly suspected.
Despite the headline below, definitive tests on this flock have not come back – and these birds were culled based on symptoms. They also apparently had direct contact with the first backyard flock affected.
This excerpt from a much longer report published in the Tri-City Herald. Follow the link to read:
By Kristi Pihl
Tri-City Herald January 6, 2015
So far, more than 700 Benton County poultry and waterfowl in the past two weeks have died from avian flu or were euthanized to halt the spread of the disease.
Officials found the contagious strain in the Richland flock this week, and they killed the surviving birds Tuesday morning. Veterinarians on Monday euthanized birds from a Benton City flock diagnosed with the disease last week.
Five days ago the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) activated their avian influenza response plan when the first backyard flock tested positive.
WSDA activates avian influenza response plan in Benton County
OLYMPIA — The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has activated a multi-agency response plan following the confirmation of highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza in domestic birds in Benton County. WSDA will work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) in this response.
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.
The H5 avian influenza virus was confirmed by the Washington State University’s Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Pullman. It was found in birds from a backyard poultry flock near Benton City. The flock of approximately 150 birds includes domestic waterfowl with access to the outdoors. There is also a pond on the premises frequented by migratory birds. The virus has not been found in commercial poultry anywhere in Washington or the United States.
The bird owner contacted WSDA after experiencing the loss of nearly 50 birds in the past week. The virus is similar to the virus found in a Washington captive gyrfalcon last month, although additional testing is being conducted to further identify the strain of the disease.
WSDA is advising commercial poultry growers and backyard flock owners to be vigilant with biosecurity measures and surveillance.
“We have a vigorous response plan but this development demonstrates how important good biosecurity can be, especially for backyard bird owners,” state veterinarian Dr. Joe Baker said. “We have not diagnosed the virus anywhere else in our domestic poultry population, but the presence of the virus in migratory waterfowl is a risk to backyard poultry. One step owners should take is preventing contact between their birds and wild birds.”
Washington’s commercial poultry industry has a robust avian influenza testing program and WSDA conducts weekly surveillance testing and health inspections at live bird markets in the state. Deaths or illness among domestic birds should be reported to the WSDA Avian Health Program at 1-800-606-3056. For wild birds, contact the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife at 1-800-606-8768.
Given the ability of migratory birds to carry these viruses – often without suffering ill effects themselves – other states are now on the lookout for the arrival of HPAI H5 viruses as well. This from Utah Public Radio.
By Taylor Halversen • Jan 5, 2015
Utah officials are warning hunters and owners of backyard poultry flocks to be wary of a highly-pathogenic strain of avian influenza virus that could appear in the state.
Though currently no affected birds have been reported, Utah is on the migratory path of affected animals, which have been found in Oregon, California and Washington.