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Government Ag Teams Encircle New Washington Bird Flu Case

Anna King
Northwest News Network
The USDA says owners of backyard flocks should keep their birds separated from wild ones.

Three new hot spots of bird flu have been found in wild ducks and domestic birds in Idaho.

A second Oregon case was confirmed last week in a wild duck near Eugene. And a flock of 118 birds was euthanized over the weekend in Port Angeles, Washington.

Government agriculture workers have taken out several large infected backyard flocks -- some with more than 100 birds.

Port Angeles is the newest target zone for government bird swabbing. And officials from the state and the USDA are finding a lot of small backyard flocks there. Some samples could come back with lab results as early as this weekend.

Idaho has stepped up its surveillance of backyard flocks and wild birds as well.

All of these Northwest cases are thought to stem from wild waterfowl flyways that pass over our region. Backyard flock owners are reminded by the USDA to keep their birds separated from wild ones. Commercial poultry and egg producers are on high alert to keep the viruses off their farms.

It’s all bad news for poultry exports -- with four key countries banning poultry and eggs from the U.S.

Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, said some poultry companies are losing as much as $500,000 in trade a week. He added that some chicken parts are worth way more outside the U.S. than in it -- like chicken feet.

“Companies are starting to send those to the rendering plant for two or three cents a pound instead of the 90 cents a pound that they were previously getting for them in China,” he said.

Sumner said it could take months or even years for trade to resume in some of these countries. And he said countries like China are already finding replacement imports.

The USDA says these particular bird flu strains are not harmful to humans.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.