In Short

Bird flu infects first flock in Coos County

By: - July 29, 2022 9:04 pm

Bird flu has infected nine backyard flocks in Oregon since May. (Oregon Department of Agriculture)

Bird flu has spread in Oregon to Coos County where an infected flock was discovered last week.

The state Department of Agriculture said the flock of 25 chicken and ducks was euthanized to prevent the spread of the deadly disease. To date, the virus has infected nine backyard flocks, including four in Deschutes County, two in Linn County and one each in Polk and Lane counties. A backyard flock in Idaho near the Oregon border also contracted the disease.

That’s led to quarantines and the euthanization of more than 1,000 birds. Agriculture officials did not enact a quarantine in Coos County because the owner did not sell the eggs, state officials said.

The outbreaks do not present a public health threat, state officials said. Meat from the birds has not been 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.

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 virus has not infected any commercial poultry operations in the state which usually raise chickens indoors. 

State agriculture officials again advised backyard flock owners to be vigilant about biosecurity measures and surveillance. “Preventing any contact between wild birds and domestic flocks is the best way to protect domestic birds from (bird flu),” the department said in a statement.

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.