The presence of bird flu on two farms in Washington State has led to the issuing of quarantine in two southeastern counties. The bird flu is reported to be highly contagious.
The quarantine was imposed by agriculture officials in the state, and it will stay in place for eight months. It means that all poultry and eggs are quarantined, which prevents them from being moved outside of this zone. The area being restricted includes about 20 miles outside of the Benton and Franklin counties.
This particular version of bird flu has not yet been found in commercial poultry, but it is highly contagious among birds. It is the H5N2 virus, and it has been confirmed to be in some poultry and other birds in the area.
The H5N2 bird flu virus does not present a problem for humans but it is deadly to poultry. The farmer, who had about 150 birds, called the Department of Agriculture after about 50 birds died last week.
Another form of avian influenza has been found in British Columbia, in Canada. The virus was discovered on more than six farms and it has already infected about 245,000 birds.
Another type of bird flu, however, is a cause of concern, if it should show up. That version of avian flu, commonly known as H5N1, can spread to humans. This was proved by the bird flu virus that affected people worldwide in 2003.
One problem with quarantine is that wild birds can still either spread it to other flocks, or they may carry a different flu virus that can infect a commercial flock. A falcon in Washington, Whatcom County, was recently found to be infected with H5N8. This strain was also discovered to be in Oregon.
When bird flu shows up in Washington State, or anywhere else, it not only leads to quarantine, but it also affects the market globally. Discovering avian flu in just two or three birds can quickly lead to the destruction of a whole flock of birds, and this often is what actually happens.
Due to the concerns over the spread of avian flu in the Pacific Northwestern states, 23 countries have already banned the imports of poultry from this part of the United States. This new discovery of bird flu has caused more countries to stop poultry imports, bringing it up to 30.
Some of the countries include Canada, which had previously banned poultry from Oregon, Mexico, and Singapore. Japan and Peru are also on the list.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA has come out with a statement saying that certification requirements that ensure poultry is free from avian flu cannot be given. The official Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which is also a part of the USDA, stated that all poultry can be verified to be free of avian flu, except for those in Washington and Oregon.
Most countries have already limited imports from just Washington and Oregon. Three countries have gone much further than that and have banned the import of all poultry sales from the United States. The USDA has criticized Sri Lanka, South Korea and Thailand because of it.
Various strains of bird flu have been appearing all over the world. Apart from the United States, bird flu has been seen in 10 countries, all of them since December 2014. The World Organization for Animal Health reports that they monitor occurrences of avian flu for up to three months.
Avian influenza is a serious matter requiring fast action to stop the spread of it. The presence of bird flu in Washington State leads to a sustained quarantine of 240 days to ensure it does not spread. Poultry and eggs that can be found in local grocery stores are tested and monitored for bird flu.
By Mike Valles