While poultry producers in Europe, Asia, and Canada have had to deal with the disruptions and economic losses brought on by numerous outbreaks of highly pathogenic of avian influenza over the dozen years, the United States has gotten off pretty lucky.
There was a pretty good scare in Texas in 2004, when – for the first time in 20 years - an outbreak of HPAI (H5N2) affected a flock of about 7,000 chickens in south-central Texas.
But that outbreak was quickly contained, and no humans were infected.
Until a little over a month ago the Eurasian lineage of H5 avian flu virus had never been reported in North America, but after an outbreak of HPAI H5N2 was detected in British Columbia, we’ve seen reports of HPAI H5N2 and H5N8 among birds in the Pacific Northwest (see Avian Flu Suspected In 2nd Washington State Backyard Flock).
Because of repeated detections of HPAI H5 in local wild and migratory birds, the Washington State Department of Agriculture has imposed a temporary quarantine on poultry sales and movement in parts of Benton and Franklin County.
For immediate release:
Jan. 7, 2015
Contact: Hector Castro
WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
P.O. Box 42560, Olympia, Washington 98504-2560
This news release is also available as a PDF.
OLYMPIA — The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) today adopted an emergency rule to establish a quarantine zone for avian influenza that includes parts of Benton and Franklin counties, covering an area of roughly 20 miles around two locations where avian influenza has been identified in flocks of mixed poultry and other birds.
The quarantine area restricts the movement of eggs, poultry or poultry products out of the identified zone. Exemptions will be made for operations that obtain special permits and meet specific criteria. Visit www.agr.wa.gov/lawsrules/rulemaking for the complete rule and a detailed map.
On Jan. 2, WSDA activated a multi-agency response plan following the confirmation of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza in domestic birds in a Benton County flock. Later, a second infected flock was identified in the area. Work was completed Jan. 6 at both locations to control the spread of the virus. The joint team of WSDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials will now work to clean and disinfect the two sites.
USDA plans to increase the amount of testing of poultry and other domestic birds within an area identified as 10 kilometers around the two flocks.
WSDA has not identified any new cases of avian influenza. The virus has not been found in commercial poultry anywhere in Washington or the United States. 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.
The biggest risk continues to be the presence of two highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza (H5N2 and H5N8) in migratory wild waterfowl populations. WSDA is encouraging bird owners to protect their domestic birds from contact with wild waterfowl and remain vigilant in their biosecurity measures.
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.
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.
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While neither of these recently detected HPAI H5 subtypes are currently believed to pose a serious risk to human health, these HPAI outbreaks can cost the poultry industry – and the local economy – tens of millions of dollars.
Some excerpts from the declaration from WSDA.
The establishment of HPAI would be costly to the poultry industry, consumers and taxpayers. Eradication of an HPAI outbreak in the northeastern states in the mid-1980s resulted in the destruction of 17 million birds at a cost of nearly $65 million. The disease can spread rapidly from flock to flock. In some instances, strains of HPAI can be infectious to people.
The USDA, APHIS works to keep NAI from becoming established in the United States. The director of agriculture, pursuant to authorities in chapter 16.36 RCW, has determined that the containment and eradication of NAI is necessary to protect the commercial poultry industry, small poultry farms and poultry fanciers of the state of Washington. Birds species that are potential hosts for NAI include chickens, turkeys, ratites, waterfowl, pigeons, doves and other domestic fowl as well as game birds including pheasants, partridge, chukars, quail, and grouse. Migratory waterfowl have proved to be the natural reservoir for this disease.
WAC 16-51-300 Prohibition on moving poultry, eggs, and poultry products, and specified
farm products within or from the quarantine zone established for NAI.
(1) Movement of living or dead poultry, eggs, or poultry products within or from the quarantine zone for NAI is prohibited, unless a permit has been issued by the department pursuant to WAC 16-51-800. Poultry may be moved within property that is one premises under the control of one person so long as that movement does not cross the boundary of a quarantine zone established by this chapter. Dead poultry or other dead birds can be transported to an approved landfill or an incinerator for disposal when secured within two plastic bags in compliance with WAC 16-51- 700. (2) Poultry shows or sales may not be held within the quarantine zone unless permissible per WAC 16-51-200 or by a special permit issued under WAC 16-51-800.