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Avian flu update

On May 19, Dr. Amber Itle, a veterinarian for the Washington State Department of Agriculture, advised against live market poultry sales for the next 30 days following the confirmation of nine cases of a highly pathogenic avian influenza in backyard flocks in the state.

Closing markets is not mandatory at this time, but markets risk transmission of the disease, and possible animal tracing and extensive cleaning and disinfection if avian influenza is detected.

So far no commercial flocks have been affected.

A Facebook page has been set up for bird flu updates by WSDA and can be found at

Very rarely, humans have been known to contract the highly pathogenic avian influenza if they have had close contact with infected birds.

On April 28, the Centers for Disease Control announced that a person in Colorado who was involved in depopulating a commercial flock had tested positive.

He complained of fatigue for a few days and has since recovered. He was isolated and treated with an antiviral, oseltamivir.

It was possible that the detection of H5 bird flu in this individual was the result of a surface contamination of the nasal membrane, but there was no way to determine that for certain.

There have been no other cases detected in the United States. The risk of it spreading to people is very low, and there is no immediate cause for concern.

Public health officials are talking to anyone who has had contact with infected birds to monitor for symptoms.

Chicken, eggs, and other poultry or poultry products are safe to eat, and people are advised to wash their hands; clean and sanitize surfaces and equipment; separate raw and cooked meat to avoid cross-contamination; cook poultry thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit; keep poultry stored at 40 degrees F or below, or in the freezer at 0 degrees F or below; and to not wash poultry.

Call the Washington State Department of Agriculture 1-800-606-3056 to report sick or dead domestic birds and contact the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to report any sick or dead wild birds.

Bird hunters should continue standard safety steps to avoid potential exposure to avian influenza or any other viruses or bacteria.


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