Another Oregon backyard poultry farm infected with bird flu

So far, agriculture officials have killed more than 980 birds

By: - July 22, 2022 4:31 pm

State officials have euthanized four backyard flocks infected with bird flu. (Lynne Terry/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Another backyard poultry farm in Deschutes County has lost its flock to bird flu.

Report an outbreak:

Call 503-986-4711 or 800-347-7028.

Report a sick or dead wild bird:

Contact the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 866-968-2600 or [email protected]

Protect your flock:

The state recommends that owners of backyard birds:

  • Restrict access to your property and keep your birds away from other birds.
  • Keep a designated pair of shoes to wear around your birds, wash clothing after visiting your birds and use disinfectants correctly.
  • Clean and disinfect cages, poultry equipment and car tires after visiting a farm store, poultry swap or other location with birds present.
  • Keep new birds separate from your flock for 30 days; quarantine returning birds from the rest of your flock after visiting a poultry swap or other event.
  • Do not share equipment or supplies with others, but if you must, disinfect it first.
  • Wash hands before and after bird handling​.​

For more information, check the state’s avian influenza webpage.

State agricultural officials said the outbreak was confirmed Tuesday, marking the fourth outbreak in Deschutes County. As of Thursday, state and federal agriculture officials have “humanely euthanized” 980 birds, including 40 chickens and ducks in the latest outbreak, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

All of the Deschutes County farms with outbreaks sold eggs, but the outbreaks do not pose a public health threat, state officials said. Meat from the euthanized birds will not be sold to eat. Avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which are safe to eat provided they’re prepared safely and cooked enough.

State officials have identified four other outbreaks in Oregon: two in Linn County and one each in Lane and Polk counties. The virus also infected a backyard flock in Idaho, close to the Oregon border. 

The virus was initially found in a bald eagle in British Columbia in mid-March. Officials identified the first infected flocks in Oregon and Washington in early May.

The virus is carried by migrating birds. The current strain is especially deadly to poultry. Usually, Oregon birds become infected by a milder strain, according to Ryan Scholz, state veterinarian at the Department of Agriculture. The last time it decimated backyard flocks was in 2015. It’s also unusual for bird flu to affect flocks well into summer, specialists said.

The state has established quarantine zones around affected farms to contain the virus. The latest case prompted the state to extend the quarantine zone that had encircled Bend seven miles to the middle of Redmond, including the fairgrounds. Chickens, ducks, turkeys or poultry products cannot be moved in the quarantine. State officials had no estimate of affected farms.

The Deschutes County Fair and Rodeo will take place Aug. 3 through Aug. 7. Normally, the quarantine would prevent owners from showing and selling birds at the fair until Scholz inspects the area to confirm the virus is contained.

Scholz won’t be able to carry out the inspection before the fair, according to a statement by the Department of Agriculture. It said he is working with Deschutes County 4-H on a plan to allow participants to exhibit and sell birds at the fair but they won’t be able to exhibit breeding birds.

In Oregon, no commercial poultry operations have been affected by bird flu. They usually raise chickens in large confined spaces. State agriculture officials advised backyard flock owners to be vigilant about biosecurity measures and surveillance. “Preventing contact between wild birds and domestic flocks is the best way to protect domestic birds from this disease,” the department said in a statement. “It only takes a tiny bit of contact to transfer (bird flu).”

The state asked owners to report flocks affected by illness or death by calling 503-986-4711 or 800-347-7028. Residents should report sick or dead wild birds to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 866-968-2600 or [email protected] The birds should not be handled.

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Lynne Terry
Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years. She has won state, regional and national awards, including a National Headliner Award for a long-term care facility story and a top award from the National Association of Health Care Journalists for an investigation into government failures to protect the public from repeated salmonella outbreaks. She loves to cook and entertain, speaks French and is learning Portuguese.

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