The state of Washington on Tuesday detected a third outbreak of H5N2 strain of avian flu, prompting the agriculture officials to caution the bird owners to remain extra vigilant while engaging in the bird business and keep their flocks away from the highly contagious migratory birds that could bring the viruses from Oregon to British Columbia.
Nearly 120 backyard chickens, ducks and geese were culled by the federal and state agriculture officials on Sunday in Clallam County (125 miles northwest of Seattle) after the authorities confirmed about the viral infections of the highly pathogenic H5N2.
Joelle Hayden, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) spokesperson, said, “All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, need to continue practicing good biosecurity, preventing contact between their birds and wild birds and reporting sick birds or unusual bird deaths.”
Refuting the fears of immediate public health concern, the federal agriculture officials said the viral infection has not been detected in any commercial poultry so far.
According to the health experts, most strains of avian flu viruses do not cause infections in humans, but some strains can prove to be dangerous or even deadly.
The Agriculture Department had last year in December confirmed two separate strains of avian flu in northern Whatcom County of Washington as several cases of infections were detected in captive Gyrfalcons and pintail ducks that were fed hunter-killed wild birds.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture had earlier this month imposed an emergency eight-month quarantine of eggs and poultry in several parts of Franklin and Benton counties, in the state’s south-east, after the H5N2 strain of bird flu was detected in two flocks of mixed poultry there.
According to the agency, the avian virus is highly contagious among poultry and can rapidly spread through a flock. They can kill birds in as little as 48 hours.
China had last week banned all imports of poultry products and eggs from the United States after discovery of avian flu in the US Pacific Northwest, the USDA said.
According to the agency, all the poultry products that were shipped to China after January 8 was asked to be returned or destroyed.