Bird Flu Infects Another Oregon Poultry Farm

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

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 prevent 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 Wildlife.Health@odfw.oregon.gov. The birds should not be handled. 

By Lynne Terry of Press Partner Oregon Capital Chronicle 

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