Our previous story found here at Avian Flu, addressed this statewide issue. It is closer to us now in the North Sound and has now been detected in Skagit County.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that a red-tailed hawk collected from Skagit County on May 11, 2022, has tested positive for HPAI H5N1, a strain of avian influenza or “Bird Flu.” At this time, we can assume that avian influenza is actively circulating in Skagit County, similar to much of Washington State.
Avian influenza viruses, such as the H5N1 strain, are extremely contagious among certain domesticated bird species, and can sicken and kill chickens, pheasants, and turkeys, among other domestic fowl. The virus is often spread to domestic birds through interactions with wild birds.
Proactive steps include keeping your backyard fowl in their coop instead of free roaming. This means a top covering as well to keep out wild birds. Taking down bird feeders, as hard as that is, will help keep infected birds from comingling with your own domestic flocks.
DOH and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are asking the public to avoid contact with wild birds, especially sick or dead wild birds or their young. State officials are asking people to report any sick or dead wild or domestic birds using the following resources:
- Use the online form to report sick/dead wild birds suspected of Avian Influenza to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/a384e90f69744f2e846135a9ce80027f
- Report sick/dead domestic birds to Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Avian Health Program by calling 1-800-606-3056.
While avian influenza infections among people are rare, human infections can happen when the virus gets into an individual’s eyes, nose, or mouth, or is inhaled. People may be at greater risk of bird flu virus infection during close or lengthy unprotected contact (not wearing respiratory protection or eye protection) with infected birds or contaminated surfaces.
Please note that chicken, eggs and other poultry and poultry products are safe to eat when properly handled and cooked.
If an individual develops flu-like symptoms within 10 days of contact with an ill or dead wild bird, they should contact their healthcare provider, as well as Skagit County Public Health at (360) 416-1500.
For more information, as well as safety tips, please visit DOH’s Avian Influenza webpage at WDOH Avian Influenza Info.