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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:29 pm 
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA
e-Alert
Avian Influenza Update
Washington
The AU has been in contact with officials within the Washington Department of Agriculture Avian Health Program to discuss the recent testing. They advise the virus continues to evolve and they are cautious of all avian species.
At this time, they advise there is only one county under quarantine. Further, they say they are already lifting the quarantine in Benton and will keep premises under surveillance, not quarantine.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture has discretion to quarantine or lift quarantine as they deem appropriate. They also estimate the one county under quarantine should only be restricted for two months. Of course, they can't predict with 100% certainty but that is the estimate at this point. This is all subject to change based on their efforts in the near future.
They have found H5N8, HPN2 AND HPN1 in waterfowl and domestic poultry in three areas.
State officials indicate there is to be no movement within the area, nor will they allow birds to be shipped out of the quarantine areas. If birds are shipped into the area, they will immediately go into quarantine.
Idaho
The AU office also spoke with the Avian Specialist for Idaho Department of Agriculture. They have detected H5N2 at two locations. One is that of a falconer. The second was in a backyard poultry flock.
They implemented the control zone to mitigate the spread of the virus. Idaho has a very large poultry industry so they follow International trade agreements. Trade agreements mandate a 10 kilometer zone around an affected facility. They are currently requesting voluntary testing of seemingly healthy birds and require testing of sick birds.
While they agree pigeons are not necessarily susceptible, they are also being cautious as strains can mutate. In order to remain in compliance with their own quarantine guidelines, they will not allow movement of pigeons at this time either. No shipping in or out of the quarantine zone is allowed. The zone encompasses Parma, ID. They are not able to advise of duration of the quarantine at this time.
We will provide updates as received.
Washington State Department of Agriculture
http://agr.wa.gov/ ;
Idaho State Department of Agriculture
http://www.agri.idaho.gov/
Information for back yard biosecurity http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov/
Karen Clifton
American Racing Pigeon Union, Inc.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:44 pm 
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA
Third strain of bird flu confirmed in wild duck in Whatcom County

By Kie Relyea

The Bellingham HeraldJanuary 23, 2015



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A third strain of bird flu has been found in a wild duck in Whatcom County, officials said Friday, Jan. 23.

Tests confirmed the H5N1 strain in a green-winged teal killed by a hunter near Sumas, said Hector Castro, a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture.

Like the other two strains traced to wild ducks in Whatcom County in December, this one also is highly pathogenic. That means the strain is deadly to domestic chickens and turkeys.

This strain bears the same name as one that has infected 650 people in 15 different countries, mostly in Asia, since 2003, killing about 60 percent of them. Most of those infections occurred in people who had close contact with domestic poultry, and none of them occurred in the U.S.

Although the most recent strain found in Whatcom County is also named H5N1, it’s not considered dangerous to the general public because it’s not the same virus, officials said.

“The actual genetic makeup is way different,” than the Asian strain, said Donn Moyer, spokesman for the Washington state Department of Health. “This one is not alarming in that way because it’s similar to the ones (in Whatcom County) that haven’t caused illnesses.”

Testing was stepped up in Whatcom County after Canadian inspectors first confirmed the highly pathogenic H5N2 strain at two British Columbia poultry farms in the first week of December and subsequent sampling found the flu in wild ducks in Whatcom County.

As for the previous two cases in Whatcom County: One was a northern pintail duck, which died because of aspergillosis, a fungal disease that birds can contract from eating moldy grain in fields and farm yards. But the duck also carried a strain of bird flu similar to the one that caused the outbreak in B.C.

The other case here was a captive gyrfalcon used for hunting; it was fed a wild widgeon, a type of duck, by its owner. Testing showed an H5N8 strain of the virus in the gyrfalcon. The bird was one of four captive gyrfalcons fed the widgeon. All died afterward, but just one was tested.

Both the wild pintail and widgeon were traced to the Wiser Lake area.

Officials have said all three strains aren’t dangerous to the general public because none has infected a human being. Still, they advised those who have backyard flocks, for example, to use caution.

“It’s not a zero risk, but it’s not a major public health risk or threat,” Moyer said.

Wild birds, specifically waterfowl, carry the flu but don’t show symptoms. And officials continue to stress that bird flu hasn’t been found in commercial poultry in the U.S.

Meanwhile, agriculture officials continue to ask poultry owners in Whatcom County to have their birds tested. The voluntary testing of domesticated birds is meant to prevent highly pathogenic bird flu from taking hold in the county and spreading. Poultry owners can do so by calling 800-606-3056. It’s also the number to report domestic birds that are sick or dead.

No backyard flocks have been found to be infected with bird flu in Whatcom County, but cases have been found in backyard flocks in Clallam and Benton counties in Washington state as well as in Oregon and Idaho.

Poultry owners are being told to keep their birds separated from wild waterfowl.

Learn more by emailing ahealth@agr.wa.gov or calling the Avian Health hotline at 800-606-3056.

People can report sick or dead wild birds can be reported by calling 1-800-606-8768.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com.

Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2015/01/23/3 ... rylink=cpy

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:48 pm 
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA
Swabs taken from 500 birds in Whatcom County to test for bird flu
BY KIE RELYEA
The Bellingham HeraldJanuary 11, 2015
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Trumpeter swans and ducks congregate by the thousands on Wiser Lake south of Lynden Feb. 5, 2014. MATT MCDONALD — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Swabs were taken from about 500 wild birds in Whatcom County by officials who want to know how widespread a highly pathogenic bird flu is among the region’s wild birds.

They were among more than 1,000 samples taken within the past month from birds killed by hunters, with most of those coming from Whatcom, Skagit and Clark counties, according to Don Kraege, waterfowl section manager for the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Highly pathogenic means the strains also can be deadly to domestic chickens and turkeys.

Wild birds, specifically waterfowl, carry the flu but don’t show symptoms. So sampling focused on wild ducks, especially the top four killed by hunters: green-winged teals, widgeons, mallards and northern pintails.

The sampling started after tests found two highly pathogenic strains in wild birds in Whatcom County last month. Testing was stepped up here after Canadian inspectors first confirmed the highly pathogenic H5N2 strain at two British Columbia poultry farms in the first week of December.

The week after that, fish and wildlife officials tested two birds found dead in Whatcom County. One was a northern pintail duck, which actually died because of aspergillosis, a fungal disease that birds can contract from eating moldy grain in fields and farm yards. But the duck also carried a strain of bird flu similar to the one that caused the outbreak in B.C.

The other was a captive gyrfalcon used for hunting and fed a wild widgeon, a type of duck, by its owner. Testing showed an H5N8 strain of the virus in the gyrfalcon. The bird was one of four captive gyrfalcons fed the widgeon. All died after, but just one was tested.

Both the wild pintail and widgeon were traced to the Wiser Lake area.

It marked the first time wild birds in North America were found to have highly pathogenic bird flu, and raised concerns for domesticated backyard flocks that come into contact with wild birds in Whatcom County and other parts of the state.

“It was a huge finding that had never occurred before. That raised all kinds of alarms as far as impacts to backyard poultry farms,” Kraege explained. “We know it’s in the population now, but how prevalent is it?”

An analysis of the samples could be completed this week and provide answers to that question.

Because of the possible impact on backyard flocks, state and federal agriculture officials have urged poultry owners to keep their birds from coming into contact with wild birds, especially since migratory waterbirds — ducks, geese and shorebirds — are migrating south from Alaska along the Pacific Flyway.

Officials stress that the highly pathogenic strains don’t seem to be dangerous to people and that they haven’t been found in commercial poultry in the U.S. or Washington state.

Wildlife officials have documented the prevalence of low-pathogenic strains, which are common in waterfowl.

Fish and wildlife officials tested more than 10,000 wild birds for bird flu viruses from 2005 to 2011. They found the viruses in about 10 percent of all birds tested, but noted that none caused illnesses or deaths.

What is worrying officials this time around is the gyrfalcon death.

“With avian influenza, water birds have evolved with that over many years. Similarly the things that eat those ducks have evolved with those viruses too,” Kraege said, so officials expected more resistance from the raptor.

Still, he said, there have been a couple of cases of raptors in Europe and Asia that died from the same kind of virus.

“It’s unusual but it has happened before,” Kraege said.

Still, it’s a concern because raptor numbers are lower than those of waterfowl.

Meanwhile, wildlife officials continue to encourage the public to contact them if they find dead or sick wild birds, especially raptors.

“We’re looking at raptors more than we typically would,” Kraege said.

Sick or dead wild birds can be reported by calling 1-800-606-8768.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/01 ... rylink=cpy

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