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June 25, 2022

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Washington zoos remove birds from public exhibts

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SEATTLE — With cases of bird flu confirmed in Washington, several Washington zoos are taking precautions to reduce risk to certain birds by removing them from public exhibits.

The latest outbreak of avian flu hit North America in December and has led to the culling of about 37 million chickens and turkeys in U.S. farms since February. More than 35 million birds in flocks across 30 states have been affected.

The first case in Washington was detected in an backyard poultry flock in Pacific County on May 6. Since then, the highly pathogenic disease has been detected in nine backyard flocks in seven counties, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Most recently, it was confirmed in a flock in Thurston County on May 17. WSDA has recommended that live market poultry sales pause for 30 days until the end of June.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk avian flu spreading from birds to people is low.

However it is often fatal among birds, and is primarily spread through wild migratory birds and their feces, leading some local zoos to move birds to covered off-exhibit areas.

“Our veterinarians and keepers will continue to assess this rapidly evolving situation,” Alan Varsik, director of the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park said in a news release.

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