[Tweeters] Avian influenza alert

Bob Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Fri Nov 4 10:17:17 PDT 2022

Hello, Tweeters,

Avian influenza alert — Last week a homeowner discovered a sick Great Blue Heron standing in her driveway southeast of Sequim. It was weak and lethargic, barely able to keep its head up. She called Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue, who ended up euthanizing the bird and sending a sample to the State Veterinarian via WDFW. It tested positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

APHIS/USDA (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/US Dept of Agriculture) has an excellent website to search US records of avian influenza in wild birds:

https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-2022/2022-hpai-wild-birds <https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-2022/2022-hpai-wild-birds>

Looking at the APHIS/USDA records, this is the first GBH with HPIA for WA, but there are at least six other GBH recovered with avian influenza in the US, including two in Florida and one each in New York, Michigan, Idaho, and Oregon. Most HPAI wild bird records are waterfowl, along with lots of raptors and other waterbirds. Very few passerines make the list, likely because they’re not found or tested. Prior to this GBH, other wild birds recorded in Clallam County with HPAI were three Bald Eagles.

As you’ve probably read, HPAI is highly contagious and very deadly for birds. Testing labs can’t test every sick wild bird, but HPAI is now widespread in WA and we birders should be on the lookout for numbers of sick birds.

Bob Boekelheide

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