Highly pathogenic bird flu has been detected in backyard chickens, captive falcons and wild ducks in western and southern Idaho, State Veterinarian Bill Barton said Tuesday.
Several wild ducks infected with H5N8 avian influenza were found in Gooding County, while the falcons and chickens in a small non-commercial flock were infected with H5N2 in Canyon County.
Barton said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game found the diseased wild ducks after stepping up surveillance of wild waterfowl because of bird flu cases in Washington, Oregon and California.
Officials suspect migratory waterfowl are introducing the closely related H5N2 and H5N8 viruses to North America, Europe and Asia.
“Most of Idaho is certainly part of the Pacific Flyway,” Barton said. “It wouldn’t be surprising to find more wild birds infected.”
The three falcons confirmed to have had the virus were fed wild duck, Barton said. The owner has other falcons, which are under quarantine and are being tested, Barton said.
The chicken flock was about 20 miles away, he said. The owner had not been moving birds off the property, Barton said.
The premises were immediately put under quarantine, and the birds were euthanized.
Three non-commercial flocks in Washington and one in Oregon have been infected with highly pathogenic bird flu since mid-December. Wild birds with the disease have been found in Washington, California and Utah.
Bird flu has not struck any U.S. commercial flock, but 245,600 birds at 11 infected British Columbia, Canada, poultry farms were culled from Dec. 1 to 17.
Barton said he knew of no other case of highly pathogenic bird flu ever in Idaho. A less contagious strain of low pathogenic avian flu was found in a southwestern Idaho game bird farm in 2008.
Barton urged domestic bird owners to keep their flocks away from wild waterfowl.
Avian influenza symptoms include coughing, sneezing, respiratory distress, decreased egg production, swelling of the head, comb and wattles and sudden death.
Barton urged Idaho producers who observe bird flu symptoms to call the Idaho State Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian’s office at 208-332-8540 or the USDA at 1-866-536-7593.
Sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 208-454-7638.