(Kennewick, WA) — The Washington Department of Agriculture has confirmed the occurrence of bird flu in Benton County. The WSDA received results Friday morning from the National Veterinarian Services Laboratory that there was an instance of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a small backyard flock of chickens in Benton County. This after the flock owner reported the sudden death of mulitple birds. Now WSDA is working to reach out and inform every flock owner within a roughly six mile radius of the bird flu finding about what happened and how they can take precautions. The agency admits it could be challenging to find every flock, since some can be small and fairly well hidden. Authorities are asking anyone with a domestic flock to use the WSDA online surveillance reporting tool. This tool will help backyard flock owners report any illnesses, guide owners on the signs to look for within their flock, and help determine if the backyard flock is located in the surveillance zone.
The WSDA says the risk of humans being infected with avian influenza is extremely low. The type of bird flu currently spreading among wild birds and domestic poultry in the U.S. have only been identified in only one person who had close contact with infected birds.
“There have been no cases of avian influenza identified in humans in Washington state,” said Hannah Schnitzler, communicable disease epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).
“Human cases from bird flu are very rare. When they do occur, it is from directly touching and handling infected birds. However, our BFHD team is monitoring to ensure the safest environment for the workers and community,” said Dr. Larry Jecha, Interim Health Officer, Benton-Franklin Health District.