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Oregon, Washington detect first cases of bird flu in backyard flocks

Backyard enthusiasts need to be aware of the potential bird flu threat to flocks. (Oregon Capital Chronicle/LES ZAITZ)

Oregon and Washington officials on Friday confirmed that both states have had their first cases of a highly pathogenic bird flu and about 150 backyard chickens, turkeys and geese were destroyed this week.

The disease has been present in North America since at least December and has primarily been spread by migrating waterfowl or scavengers like crows, ravens and raptors, said Colin Gillin, Oregon’s state wildlife veterinarian. It can be transmitted through direct contact or water or food contaminated by saliva or feces.

Bird owners should watch for respiratory disease, ruffled feathers or lethargy or instances of birds suddenly dropping dead. In Oregon, people should call the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s sick bird hotline . . .