WA State Vets urge flock owners to skip fairs and exhibitions

OLYMPIA, Wash. - 

Washington State Department of Agriculture officials are urging bird owners to skip fairs and exhibitions until 30 days after the last confirmed detection of H5N1 on Washington state.

H5N1 is a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) spreading through Washington state. 

In a press release from the WSDA says state officials hope this request is short lived. 

“If flock owners could remain diligent for just a few weeks until the waterfowl complete their migration north, we should be able to get through the worst of it,” Dr. Amber Itle, state veterinarian said. “We anticipate activities can resume to normal by the end of June.”

WSDA says commingling of domestic birds from multiple households where ducks, geese, and poultry often share housing, equipment, and show spaces is a very high-risk activity for disease transmission.

“It is vital you skip shows, exhibitions, and fairs for now to protect bird health and reduce risk of transmission,” Dr. Amber Itle, state veterinarian, said.

State veterinarians say this is a call to voluntarily cancel events where different flocks of farm birds can intermingle and transmit sicknesses. Vets say if cases continue to rise, event closures may be mandated by emergency rule. 

If bird owners see signs of influenza, including multiple sick birds or multiple sudden deaths, contact WSDA’s sick bird hotline to report. If only a single bird is sick or dies, contact your veterinarian.

WSDAF says there is no immediate concern for public health because of the H5N1, but food from wild birds and domestic birds should always be cooked properly. 

Report unusual, multiple deaths or illness among domestic birds to the WSDA Avian Health Program at 1-800-606-3056. Report dead or sick wild birds using the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s online reporting tool.

Avian influenza can be transmitted from wild birds to domestic birds through direct contact, fecal contamination, transmission through the air, environmental contamination, and shared water sources.

WSDA says bird owners should bring their flocks inside or undercover to protect them from wild waterfowl.