Bird flu found in wild birds in Washington state: USDA

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 17, 2014 12:20 PM

(Reuters) - Two strains of avian influenza have been confirmed in wild birds in Washington state, near the U.S. border with Canada, but there is no immediate cause for public health concerns, U.S. agriculture officials said on Wednesday.

Two separate virus strains were identified in Whatcom County, Washington, including H5N2 in northern pintail ducks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a statement.

This same strain has killed thousands of birds on two Canadian farms in British Columbia. [ID:nL2N0TN2BW] The other strain, H5N8, was found in captive gyrfalcons that were fed hunter-killed wild birds, the USDA said.

Neither virus has been found in U.S. commercial poultry, and no human cases with these viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada or internationally, the USDA said.

"There is no immediate public health concern with either of these avian influenza viruses," the statement said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there was an outbreak of H5N2 virus in a flock of chickens in Texas in 2004. That was the first U.S. outbreak of the virus in 20 years and no transmission of the virus to humans was reported at the time.

The H5N1 bird flu, which severely affected poultry in Asia, became a worldwide concern because in 2003 it was more easily spread among humans.

(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; Editing by Tom Brown)