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Two more Deschutes County flocks of 70-80 birds confirmed with avian flu, euthanized; six local cases total

(Update: Adding video, comments from Bend veterinarian)

Preventing any contact between wildlife and domestic birds halts Avian Flu spread

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- With two new cases discovered in Deschutes County, leading to euthanizing close to 150 birds, the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) continues to spread around the area and state.

On July 22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) confirmed HPAI in the two non-commercial backyard flocks in Deschutes County. Each property had about 70 to 80 birds, a mix of chickens, ducks and Pea fowl, the ODA reported.

To prevent further spread, all of the birds were humanely euthanized on July 24, ODA said. Unlike the previous reported cases, these flock owners did not sell eggs or other poultry products; therefore, federal guidelines do not require expansion of the existing regional quarantine, officials said.

But as the spread continues, Deschutes County now has six avian flu cases confirmed.

East Bend Animal Hospital Associate Veteran Brett Thomas explained how the virus usually spreads among birds.

"Wild birds, waterfowl are notoriously known to spread this," Thomas said Tuesday. "So ducks, geese, those sorts of things."

He also addressed proximity between bird flocks.

"If they're close enough, if the actual enclosures are close enough, they could have been spread through the air through respiratory secretions -- that's possible," Thomas said. "Saliva, nasal secretions, and even through stool.”

State Veterinarian Ryan Scholz expects more cases of HPAI statewide as we move closer to the fall season and birds begin their winter migration.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture advises commercial poultry and backyard flock owners to be watchful of their flock and look out for symptoms, from “lethargy to decreased egg production to diarrhea, to even just acute death," Thomas said.

To protect domestic birds from the avian flu, Thomas advises owners to make sure their birds' food and water sources aren't exposed to wildlife, and to use bird coverings.

Here's the rest of ODA's Tuesday announcement:

There is no immediate public concern due to the avian influenza virus detection. Avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which remain safe to eat. Both wild and domestic poultry should be adequately prepared and cooked.

To keep the public informed, ODA will provide weekly HPAI summaries beginning August 8 and post all confirmed Oregon HPAI cases online. You can sign up to receive HPAI updates via email. ODA will continue to issue news releases to announce the first case of HPAI in domestic poultry in a county that has not previously had a case of HPAI, and for new or expanded regional quarantines.

As always, ODA advises commercial poultry and backyard flock owners to be vigilant with biosecurity measures and surveillance. Preventing any contact between wild birds and domestic flocks is the best way to protect domestic birds from HPAI. Death or illness among domestic birds should be reported to ODA. Please report by calling 503-986-4711 (Alt phone 1-800-347-7028).

To report the death of wild birds, please contact the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) by calling 1-866-968-2600 or email Wildlife.Health@odfw.oregon.gov.

For more tips on protecting backyard flocks, please visit ODA's Avian Influenza webpage or en Español at Avian Influenza-Spanish.

Article Topic Follows: Deschutes County
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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.

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