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January 12, 2015 at 1:01 PM

Feds arrive to monitor outbreaks of avian flu in Benton County

The Wenatchee World

RICHLAND — A federal team of bird flu experts has been sent to Benton County to ensure proper disposal of two infected flocks and promote biosecurity measures to reduce risk of spreading the disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday it had dispatched an incident management team to help state officials further detect the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Benton County following the disease’s discovery in wild birds in Whatcom County in December.

The avian flu had been identified in two backyard flocks in Benton County, and both have been euthanized and flock sites disinfected, said a press release from the state Department of Agriculture. State and federal agencies are encouraging backyard bird owners in the area to reduce the risk of spreading the disease by preventing contact between their birds and wild waterfowl.

A quarantine is now in effect in parts of Benton and Franklin counties to restrict movement of poultry and poultry products.

The USDA team began Saturday to conduct surveillance and voluntary testing of birds in backyard flocks within a 1.8-mile area around each infected site. Testing will help confirm that the outbreaks are isolated events that are not a threat to commercial poultry exports, said a WSDA news release.

State officials have stressed that there are no immediate public health concerns with avian flu virus detected in Washington, but public health officials are contacting people who may have been exposed to infected birds. The virus has not been detected in the state’s commercial poultry operations or anywhere else in the U.S., said the agency.

Backyard bird owners are urged to monitor their flock closely and report sick or dead birds to the WSDA Avian Health Program at 800-606-3056 or to the USDA at 866-536-7593.

Comments | More in General news | Topics: Avian flu, Benton County, bird flu

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