Avian flu kills and sickens wild birds at Wiser Lake


Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are asking residents to not handle sick or dead birds after avian flu was detected at Wiser Lake, near Lynden. Nearly 400 sick or dead geese were recently found at the lake.

The two departments urged residents to avoid contact with the birds to prevent the spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), also known as avian flu or bird flu, in a November 22 press release. The virus is spreading through wild birds, such as Canada geese and snow geese, migrating through the area. 

This isn’t the first time avian flu has been detected in Whatcom County this year. In mid-May, Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) reported the first detection of avian flu in a backyard domestic flock. Bird flu was first confirmed in B.C. in April and shortly after started being detected throughout Washington state. The flu has been detected in 36 domestic flocks across Washington so far this year in addition to being found in wild birds, according to WSDA’s website. 

The circulating strain of bird flu is not thought to easily infect humans, but people who have been in contact with infected birds should contact WCHD at 360/778-6100. Poultry products remain safe to eat when properly cooked. 

WCHD and WDFW ask people who find an ill or dead wild bird or animal to not touch the bird or try to transport it to a veterinarian for treatment because this can spread the virus. If people do need to move a dead animal to keep it away from their pet, they should wear disposable gloves, double-bag the animal and put it at the bottom of the trash can so scavengers will not get it, according to the departments. 

WCHD and WDFW recommend keeping domestic flocks in an area with a roof that doesn’t let water through and removing items that may attract wild waterfowl such as ponds or water features. Owners of domestic flocks should also look for sickness in poultry, decreased egg production and diarrhea.

To report wild birds thought to have avian flu, visit WDFW’s reporting form at bit.ly/3VsjVb4. To report domestic birds thought to have avian flu, call WSDA’s avian health program at 800/606-3056 or visit WSDA’s reporting form at bit.ly/3ua9FIN.


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