Sunday, February 5, 2023
Feb. 5, 2023

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Washington Ag Dept.: Uptick in bird flu likely

Agriculture officials: Keep domestic fowl away from wild ones


SEATTLE — The Washington State Department of Agriculture is warning the state to prepare for an uptick in bird flu cases this fall.

Bird flu has already been responsible for millions of chicken and turkey deaths nationwide this year.

Locally, 34 flocks have been infected and waterfowl at Seattle’s Green Lake and Volunteer parks have tested positive. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo have taken precautionary measures to protect their exotic birds and remove them from public view.

Now, officials say that as the rainy season approaches, standing water and ponds that attract migrating wild birds will increase the risk of spreading bird flu.

The biggest risk factor is direct contact with wild waterfowl. Officials recommend flock owners fence off their domestic birds, as well as eliminate outdoor feeders to prevent contact with wild birds.

Bird owners should expect to continue taking these precautionary measures through the fall, according to Washington state veterinarian Amber Itle.

“There is clear evidence that the virus did not re-assort to a less pathogenic form. That’s what we were hoping for, but it didn’t happen,” Itle said in a news release.

In September, there were additional detections of bird flu along the northern border indicating migrating birds will continue to spread the virus through fall, she said.

Public Health — Seattle & King County recommends against people approaching or touching wild birds, especially if they appear ill or dead. Birds with the disease may be lethargic, have discharge at the nose and mouth or ruffled feathers.

Individuals can report sick or dead birds online at or by calling 360-902-2200, pressing 4, and leaving a voicemail.