[Tweeters] WDFW requests help with avian flu testing

Devon Comstock devonc78 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 23 14:46:34 PST 2014

This press release just came through:

*WDFW seeks public’s help*

*in testing wild birds for flu*

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking
the public’s help in testing waterfowl and other wild birds for a type of
avian influenza that has killed tens of thousands of chickens and domestic
turkeys in British Columbia and has recently been detected in wild birds in
Washington and Oregon.

Although the virus poses no apparent threat to human health, highly
pathogenic strains of avian influenza can be deadly to domestic poultry
and, rarely, wild birds.

State wildlife managers ask that anyone who sees a wild bird that is sick
or dead call WDFW at 1-800-606-8768. They are particularly interested in
waterfowl and birds such as eagles, hawks, falcons, ravens, and gulls that
prey on them or scavenge their carcasses.

In addition, field staff from WDFW and two federal agencies will ask
hunters’ permission to collect samples from birds they have harvested to
test for the disease in several counties. Those efforts will be focused in
Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Clark counties.

“The sampling procedure takes less than a minute per bird, and will help us
determine the prevalence of the disease in wild birds,” said Don Kraege,
WDFW waterfowl section manager. “Waterfowl are carriers of the disease, but
often don’t show symptoms. The primary risk is to domestic chickens and

Kraege noted that WDFW tested more than 10,000 wild birds for bird flu
viruses from 2005 to 2011, and found bird flu viruses in about 10 percent
of all birds tested. None, however, were associated with any illnesses or

WDFW is part the state’s multi-agency response to highly pathogenic H5 bird
flu that also includes the Washington State Department of Agriculture
(WSDA) the Washington Department of Health, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA), the National Wildlife Health Center, and the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service.

Canadian inspectors first confirmed the highly pathogenic H5N2 strain of
avian influenza at two British Columbia poultry farms during the first week
of December. Aware of that finding, WDFW had two birds – a gyrfalcon and
northern pintail duck – found dead in Whatcom County tested for bird flu
the following week.

The gyrfalcon, used for hunting and fed wild duck by its owner, was found
to have a highly pathogenic H5N8 form of the virus. Another duck found dead
at Wiser Lake was infected with H5N2, similar to the strain found in
poultry in British Columbia.

On Dec. 18, the USDA confirmed the presence of the H5N8 virus in guinea
fowl and chickens in a backyard poultry flock in Winston, Oregon.

State and federal agriculture officials strongly recommend that poultry
producers prevent contact between their birds and wild birds. Migratory
waterbirds (ducks, geese, shorebirds) are now migrating southward from
Alaska along the Pacific Flyway, making domestic birds especially
susceptible to contracting the disease.

WDSA asks that anyone who spots sick or dead domestic poultry report their
observations at 1-800-606-3056.

While it is extremely unlikely that hunters or people feeding wild birds
could contract bird flu from wild birds, the following common-sense
precautions are always recommended to reduce the risk of contracting any
wildlife disease:

- Do not harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick or found
- Wear rubber gloves while cleaning game or cleaning bird feeders.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while cleaning game.
- Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol wipes immediately after
handling game or cleaning bird feeders.
- Wash tools and work surfaces used to clean game birds with soap and
water, then disinfect with a 10 percent solution of chlorine bleach.
- Separate raw meat, and anything it touches, from cooked or
ready-to-eat foods to avoid contamination.
- Cook game birds thoroughly. Meat should reach an internal temperature
of 155 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill disease organisms and parasites.

For more information about avian influenza, see WDFW’s website at
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