USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza in wild birds in Washington state.
According to APHIS, two strains were identified in northern pintail ducks and captive Gyrfalcons that were fed hunter-killed wild birds.
Neither strand of virus has been found in any commercial poultry in the US and APHIS says there is no immediate public health concern.
While neither virus has been found in commercial poultry, federal authorities with the U.S. Department of Agriculture also emphasize that poultry, poultry products and wild birds are safe to eat even if they carry the disease if they are properly handled and cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
US officials said response to the flu’s presence in Washington state was swiftly reported and acted on in light of the avian flu outbreaks currently affecting commercial poultry farms in British Columbia, Canada.
USDA is working with the US Department of the Interior and the US Department of Health and Human Services as well as partners from Washington on additional surveillance and testing of both commercial and wild birds in the nearby area.
USDA says the virus would have significant economic impacts if detected in US domestic poultry. Commercial poultry producers follow strict biosecurity practices and raise their birds in very controlled environments. Federal officials emphasize that all bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should continue practicing good biosecurity.