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Highly contagious avian influenza found in Oregon; Bend owner of chickens taking precautions

Media Press Release- Avian Flu
Oregon Department of Agriculture

(Update: Adding video, comments from Bend chickens owner, news conference )

CDC says it does not present an immediate public health concern

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed Friday the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a non-commercial, backyard flock (non-poultry) in Linn County – the first confirmed case in Oregon since 2015.

And since the outbreak has been spreading for some time, with millions of chickens and turkeys culled, many bird owners, including on the High Desert, have already been taking precautions.

Southwest Bend chicken owner Annie Chrietzberg told NewsChannel 21 Friday she was aware of the growing nationwide outbreak. She says she has seen it on the news and that there are two active groups on Facebook for local chicken owners. She started taking precautions last week to save her birds.

Chrietzberg's chickens are in her backyard, enclosed and protected from the sky and wild birds. She said she'll isolate them completely, if needed. The birds' food and water are underneath the canopy, so wild bird droppings cannot get in them.

"We bought a carport canopy, so that if the bird flu sweeps through, we can enclose the chickens during the day, and part of that enclosure is keeping all the wild birds away from them," Chrietzberg said. "So I have four walls I can enclose them with, and I got the canopy with windows that can go up, so they can have ventilation."

Several geese in a noncommercial flock of about 100 waterfowl died suddenly on a farm in Linn County, and federal authorities confirmed Friday that they died of the avian flu. Also Friday, authorities in Washington state received word that chickens and turkeys in a flock of about 50 birds at a noncommercial farm in Pacific County, Washington, also had the disease.

Dana R. Dobbs, a veterinarian with Washington state, said, "In this particular outbreak, it has been primarily introduced by wild waterfowl that are migrating, and right now the birds are migrating back north."

Chrietzberg owns chickens for the quality of their eggs.

"I always wanted to have chickens, and when I bought this home a year ago, I was able to do that," she said. "The eggs are amazing, because my birds get fresh greens every morning -- kale, cilantro and parsley, and fermented grains. They're very spoiled. They're not really farm animals, they're more like pets."

She said she loves to sit outside on a nice day and watch Peri, Fernando and Margarite.

Some of the infected birds in Linn County have died. The Oregon Department of Agriculture says the rest will be humanely euthanized.

HPAI (H5N1) is a highly contagious virus that transmits easily among wild and domestic bird species. However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detection does not present an immediate public health concern.

“We knew HPAI was coming our way after a bald eagle in British Columbia tested positive in early March,” said Dr. Ryan Scholz, State Veterinarian with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “Since that detection, we have been hard at work communicating with our commercial poultry producers, veterinarians and the public on how they can protect their flocks.

"Now more than ever, all bird owners must practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual deaths so ODA can ensure testing.”

A quick response is needed to prevent the spread of HPAI, ODA said Friday. The owner of the affected backyard flock reported the deaths and delivered at least one of the birds to Oregon State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for initial sample testing. Samples were also sent to APHIS’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

Meanwhile, ODA quickly quarantined the affected premises. ODA will humanely euthanize any additional birds on the property to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from this farm were not used for food and will not enter the food system. There are no detections in commercial poultry in the state.

ODA and federal partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area, following existing avian influenza response plans.

Dr. Ryan Scholz, Oregon's state veterinarian, said of the Linn County case, “The long and the short of it is the producer noticed that one day a crow flew in with some of his chickens -- and the next day, he literally described that they were dropping like flies.”

“We want to contain and eradicate this disease as soon as possible, to protect our commercial poultry industry, as well as some of our backyard flocks that are selling eggs and doing things like that,” Scholz said.

The cases do not pose a risk to humans, and birds from the farms were not used for food.

Northwest wildlife and agricultural officials said the virus seems to primarily affect waterfowl, but people who feed songbirds should take extra steps to clean their feeders frequently out of an abundance of caution.

There are no detections of the avian flu in commercial poultry in either state, they said

If you find a sick or dying bird, ODA asks that you do not touch it; report it. For domestic birds, please report by calling ODA at 1-800-347-7028 or email npip@oda.oregon.gov. For wild birds, please call and report to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife by calling 1-866-968-2600.

For more information about HPAI, visit ODAs Avian Influenza web page. You will learn more about avian influenza, its signs, symptoms, and ways to protect your birds.

APHIS also has materials about biosecurity, including videos, checklists, and a toolkit available at Defend the Flock Resource Center.

Anyone involved with poultry production, from the small backyard to the large commercial producer, should review their biosecurity activities to assure the health of their birds. In addition, the USDA updates the latest HPAI detections on its website.

Author Profile Photo

Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.

KTVZ news sources

The Associated Press

Comments

32 Comments

  1. Governor better lock everything down. Close Businesses, require masks, implement fines to businesses that don’t follow protocol, makes restaurants have no indoor dining, require vaccinations, etc…

    1. I often have to decide the fine line between “dumb” and “offensive.” So this one stands, many of your truly offensive post attempts tonight are not. Sorry, I’m sure you can find an audience for such offensiveness. Not here.

      1. If a chicken wearing a masks offends someone to no end then something’s wrong. Still trying to figure out how a deprecating joke on myself was in strict violation.

        1. Mask wearing chickens? That’s funny I don’t care what the “moderator” says. I think if that’s a borderline comment, someone needs to retire.

    2. Careful. The Orwellian Ministry of Truth will come after your comments for censorship. It won’t be long before we no longer have our first amendment rights.

  2. As a chicken flock owner of over 50 hens, I’m not worried in the slightest. I don’t fall for the “funded” propaganda and fear campaigns. I could care less about the “Avian flu”, “Covid plandemic”, or ANY cold or flu. It’s a natural thing to get sick and you will NEVER stop it no matter how much of our money they throw at it. Just look at the transients and drug trades for evidence.

    1. Even for someone with a tiny flock, that’s a profound lack of knowledge of proper animal husbandry. Disease outbreaks in poultry are serious concerns with potential for major economic consequences; e.g., an outbreak of Newcastle Disease in the 1970s resulted in the death of 12 million birds. I bet you’d care about avian flu if one of your hens got it and the USDA then euthanized your entire flock as a result.

  3. Figured next one would be August because if happened now the Dems wouldn’t have any fear mongering to scream using mail in ballots in October. Of course barney would be thinking we’re 🧠 washed by the right to paint the libs as evil.

    1. Oregon has been using mail in ballots for over 30 years. Huh. Very likely the soul reason the Democrats have been in power ever since they began to fully implement the mail in system.

      1. Proof? Dozens of county clerks and several secretaries of state of both parties over the years would say it’s been a safe, valid form of voting, with checks and failsafes. But now, the truth gets twisted. Daily.

        1. ALL of them are paid handsomely with very good fringe benefits and retirements. They will NEVER go against that. Kinda like you Barney. You’d never go against your bosses or CNN’s narratives for fear of losing your cushy cash cow. Refute that.

          1. My bosses don’t tell me what to write, other than to be accurate and factual. Do we discuss what stories are worth doing, what is worth investigating, etc.? Of course, that’s journalism.
            I’ve never had bosses that are otherwise, nor has any media outlet in this country I’ve ever worked for, or heard of in large markets or small.
            And you will NEVER prove otherwise.

      2. Doug ain’t all that bright and he just moved here, how was he supposed to know that his new home state led the charge with mail-in voting DECADES ago. Notice how he outright omits necessary words for a legible sentence regularly? … and I’m not even talking about the ridiculous emojis. The bar has been set super low here…

    2. If they’re not evil them why do they keep proving otherwise. If leftist liberal policies work, then why don’t leftist liberal policies work?

  4. This lady seems like someone who will be pretty disappointed, when she finally learns that chickens arent vegetarians, and neither are people who eat chicken fetuses

  5. Chickens have rights just you and I, how could anyone support locking their chicken in a Costco tent. The wise citizens of many states, like California, have voted for chicken rights like the Free Range Chickens. So now these chicken must remain outside and exposed the other sick birds, way to go chicken right advocate.

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