OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) will offer a free webinar to help poultry owners protect their birds from avian influenza as cases continue to increase worldwide. 

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reports ongoing outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), or bird flu, in 26 countries across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. HPAI can spread rapidly and kill entire flocks. 

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently reported the current rates of HPAI in Asia and Europe are similar to the rates in 2014-2015 when HPAI was identified in the U.S., including Washington State, and thousands of birds had to be euthanized to contain the disease.

This pattern suggests the risk of HPAI in the U.S. is elevated this year. 

“This is definitely a situation where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – maybe more,” Dr. Brian Joseph, Washington State Veterinarian, said. “By taking steps now, you can protect not only your flock but others in your community.” 

In addition to existing resources such as USDA’s Defend the Flock program and information about avian influenza on WSDA’s website, WSDA will offer a free educational webinar for poultry owners on Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m.

The webinar will provide information about avian influenza, how the current situation is similar to 2014/2015, and what steps poultry owners can take to protect their birds.

 Although the webinar is free, space is limited so reserve a spot by registering for the webinar.

 In addition to practicing effective biosecurity measures, it is important to report unusual illnesses or deaths in birds.

If only one or two birds in your flock are sick, contact your veterinarian. Report increases in illness or death rates in your flock to WSDA directly at [email protected] or by calling (360) 902-1878 or (800) 942-1035 (after hours number). 

While wild birds may not die from it, they can carry and transmit the avian influenza virus to domestic poultry. Dead waterfowl should be reported to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 Learn more about avian influenza on WSDA’s website at agr.wa.gov/birdflu and follow us on WSDA’s social media to stay informed about avian influenza and other issues affecting Washington agriculture.