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Hundreds of wild birds dead in Whatcom. What's happening?

Bellingham Herald - 11/23/2022

Nov. 23—Nearly 400 wild geese have been found dead recently at Wiser Lake southwest of Lynden, and several have tested positive for avian flu, prompting a warning from the Whatcom County Health Department.

Avian flu is called HPAI, for highly pathogenic avian influenza, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Western Washington, including Whatcom County, has seen periodic HPAI infections in backyard poultry flocks in the past year. The virus is spreading right now in wild birds migrating through the area, like Canada geese and snow geese," the Whatcom County Health Department said in a statement.

County health officials said avian flu is highly contagious among birds, but the risk to people is low.

"This current strain of bird flu does not appear to easily infect humans. As a precautionary measure, people who have had known contact with infected birds should contact the Whatcom County Health Department," the statement said.

Chicken, eggs and other poultry and poultry products are safe to eat when properly handled and fully cooked, health officials said.

If you find a sick or dead wild bird or animal:

— Don't handle any sick bird or other wild animal and don't take them to a veterinarian. Moving sick animals can spread the virus.

— Use the online form to report sick/dead wild birds to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

— Keep pets away from dead or sick animals. If you need to move a dead animal to keep your pet away from it, wear disposable gloves, double-bag the animal, and push it deep into the trash to keep scavengers away from it.

— Bird hunters should follow standard safety steps, including not disposing of carcasses in the field. Double-bag the animal and put it in the trash.

How to protect domestic flocks from avian influenza:

— Watch for signs of sickness in poultry, such as lack of energy and appetite, decreased egg production, diarrhea and similar symptoms of illness.

— Report sick/dead domestic birds to Washington State Department of Agriculture at 800-606-3056. More information about avian flu and backyard flocks is at the Washington State Department of Agriculture website.

— Keep domestic birds in an area with a roof that doesn't let water through.

— Remove/drain or dispose of items that may attract wild waterfowl, such as ponds or water features.

This story was originally published November 23, 20229:38 AM.


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