Another backyard poultry farm in Deschutes County lost its flock to bird flu.
State agriculture officials said the outbreak was confirmed Tuesday, marking the fourth outbreak in Deschutes County. On Thursday, state and federal agriculture officials “humanely euthanized” 980 birds, including 40 chickens and ducks in the latest outbreak, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
All Deschutes County farms with outbreaks have sold eggs, but the outbreaks are not preventing a public health threat, state officials said. Meat from euthanized birds will not be sold for food. Avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which are safe to eat provided they are prepared safely and sufficiently cooked.
State officials have identified four other outbreaks in Oregon: two in Linn County and one in Lane and Polk counties. The virus has also infected a backyard flock in Idaho, near the Oregon border.
The virus was initially discovered in a bald eagle in British Columbia in mid-March. Authorities identified the first infected herds in Oregon and Washington in early May.
The virus is carried by migrating birds. The current strain is particularly lethal to poultry. Usually, Oregon birds are infected with a milder strain, according to Ryan Scholz, state veterinarian with the Department of Agriculture. The last time it decimated backyard flocks was in 2015. It is also unusual for bird flu to affect flocks until summer, specialists have said.
The state has established quarantine zones around affected farms to contain the virus. The latest case prompted the state to expand the quarantine zone that had surrounded Bend seven miles in the middle of Redmond, including the fairgrounds. Chickens, ducks, turkeys or poultry products cannot be moved during quarantine. State officials had no estimate of the farms affected.
The Deschutes County Fair and Rodeo will be held August 3-7. Normally, quarantine would prevent owners from showing and selling birds at the fair until Scholz inspects the area to confirm the virus is contained.
Scholz will not be able to carry out the inspection before the fair, according to a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture. He said he’s working with Deschutes County 4-H on a plan to allow attendees to display and sell birds at the fair, but they won’t be able to display breeding birds.
In Oregon, no commercial poultry farms have been affected by bird flu. They usually keep chickens in large, confined spaces. State agriculture officials have advised owners of backyard flocks to be vigilant about biosecurity measures and monitoring. “Preventing contact between wild birds and domestic flocks is the best way to protect domestic birds from this disease,” the department said in a statement. “It only takes a very small touch to be transferred (avian flu).”
The state has asked owners to report flocks affected by illness or death by calling 503-986-4711 or 800-347-7028. Residents should report sick or dead wild birds to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 866-968-2600 or [email protected] Birds should not be handled.
By Lynne Terry of Press Partner Oregon Capital Chronicle