LINN COUNTY, Ore — An avian flu that's spreading quickly across the U.S. has been detected in Oregon for the first time since 2015, in a backyard flock of birds in a rural area, authorities said.
The presence of the highly contagious virus in Linn County, about 110 miles southeast of Portland, was confirmed Friday by federal officials after state officials conducted preliminary testing, the Oregon Department of Agriculture said in a statement.
The latest outbreak has led to the culling of about 37 million chickens and turkeys in U.S. farms since February, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed 956 cases of bird flu in wild birds, including at least 54 bald eagles. But the actual number is likely significantly higher because not every wild bird that dies is tested and the federal tally doesn’t include cases recorded by wildlife rehabilitation centers.
The discovery of the avian flu in the Pacific Northwest wasn’t unexpected as the virus has been spreading rapidly across the country in both domestic and wild birds. An infected bald eagle was found in British Columbia, Canada, in early March, said Dr. Ryan Scholz, Oregon's state veterinarian.
“Since that detection, we have been hard at work communicating with our commercial poultry producers, veterinarians and the public on how they can protect their flocks," he said. "Now more than ever, all bird owners must practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual deaths so ODA can ensure testing.”
The case does not pose a risk to humans, and birds from the farm were not used for food. State officials have quarantined the farm and will euthanize any remaining birds. The sick birds were first reported by their owner, who brought at least one dead bird to state authorities for testing.
There are no detections of the avian flu in commercial poultry in Oregon, state agriculture officials said Friday.