A highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza has been found in guinea fowl and chickens in a small backyard flock in Southern Oregon, the state Department of Agriculture said today.
The H5N8 virus was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is similar to the virus that killed a captive gyrfalcon this week in Whatcom County, Wash., in the northwest corner
The flock of approximately 100 birds in Douglas County had access to the outdoors, according to ODA. A pond and marsh on the premises are frequented by migratory birds.
The falcon in Washington died after eating a wild duck shot by a hunter at Wiser Lake 3 miles southwest of Lynden, Wash. Another wild duck found dead at the same lake tested positive this week for H5N2 avian influenza.
The H5N8 virus struck Asia flocks earlier this year and was detected in European commercial poultry for the first time in November. The virus has never been detected in commercial poultry in the United States.
A highly pathogenic H5N2 virus has claimed more than 200,000 birds at 10 poultry farms in British Columbia, just north of the Washington border.
ODA is the lead agency responding to the bird flu in Southern Oregon.
The agency is working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Health Authority and USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service.
The H5N8 virus found in other parts of the world has not caused any human health problems, according to ODA.
Bird flu does not taint meat or eggs, which are safe to eat if properly cooked, according to officials.
ODA advised commercial poultry growers and backyard flock owners to keep their birds away from wild birds.
“Steps are being taken to contain the disease and we have not diagnosed avian influenza elsewhere in Oregon’s domestic poultry population, but the presence of the virus in migratory waterfowl poses a potential risk to our backyard poultry,” Oregon State Veterinarian Brad LeaMaster said in a written statement.
Backyard flock owners can report sick birds to the State Veterinarian’s office at 1-800-347-7028 or can call USDA toll free at 1-866-536-7593.
Oregon’s commercial poultry industry has an avian influenza testing program, and ODA conducts weekly tests and health inspections at the state’s only live bird market in Woodburn.
In addition, ODFW tests dead birds. Wild bird deaths can be reported to the ODFW toll-free line at 1-866-968-2600.