Bird Flu Confirmed in Neighboring County

After months of eluding the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), Oregon has reported its first confirmed case in a backyard, noncommercial flock in neighboring Linn County. It is the first time Oregon has confirmed a case since the 2015 outbreak.  

So far, 37 million birds have been affected in 33 states. Between 2014 to 2015, 50 million birds were culled across 10 states. As for wild birds, just under 100 cases were confirmed in North America, and more than 1,000 cases have been confirmed in this outbreak, according to Dr. Bryan Richards, of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center, during a news conference held Friday. 

“The magnitude and scope of this event vastly surpasses what we saw in 2014/2015,” Richards said. “I wouldn’t bet against this virus coming back on the wings of migratory waterfowl this fall.” 

Dr. Amber Itle, from Washington State’s Department of Agriculture, reiterated the unique circumstances of this outbreak. 

“What’s happened this year, it’s a little bit different, where the whole genomic sequence being done…is showing that a lot of these are novel strains—novel introductions,” Itle said during the news conference. “So that’s really strange.” 

Itle said the biggest risk right now for backyard flocks are mixed species, which need to be separated. But beyond elevated biosecurity, she cautioned that there’s something more to this outbreak compared with others.  

“The other risk factor that we see commonly with these types of flocks are that they have acce ss to a pond or a water source,” Itle said. “And it appears that with this virus in particular, there’s some kind of contact occurring with waterfowl or contaminated environment infecting these flocks, which is so much different than what we’ve seen historically.” 

The owner of the birds in Linn County delivered one of the birds to Oregon State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for initial sample testing, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) quarantined the area. Since it was found in a noncommercial flock, it has not entered the food system, according to the ODA. 

On Tuesday, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed a human case of bird flu in Colorado. Cases in humans are rare but possible. According to the CDC, the person had been involved in the culling of poultry, and has since recovered. 

By Peggy Perdue