Bird Flu Detected in Cowlitz County; WSDA Launches Online Domestic Sick Bird Reporting Tool


In anticipation of the fall surge in highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) cases, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has launched the domestic sick bird online reporting tool.

The online tool complements the existing WSDA sick bird reporting hotline as well as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s online reporting tool for wild birds, according to WSDA.

Washington state is seeing an uptick in HPAI cases as fall migration gets underway, according to WSDA. This week, Cowlitz County joined the tally of flocks with HPAI, bringing the total of domestic flocks statewide to 34. An additional Pierce County flock has tested positive as well, according to WSDA. Birds in Lewis and Thurston counties have previously tested positive for the virus.

Bird owners should expect the need to continue taking extra biosecurity measures through the fall, said Washington State Veterinarian Dr. Amber Itle.

“The fall avian migration is starting, meaning we’re likely to see more bird flu cases throughout the state again,” she said.

After a detection, state and federal animal health officials monitor for HPAI symptoms in flocks within a 10-kilometer surveillance zone around the detection site. Flock owners in a surveillance zone are encouraged to self-report the health of their birds using the online surveillance self-reporting tool.

State veterinarians seek to contact every flock owner in a surveillance area to check on the health of their flock, and self-reporting allows a veterinarian to make phone contact to discuss biosecurity and what to look for without having to make in-person contact, according to WSDA.

State veterinarians say the biggest risk factor to date is direct contact with wild waterfowl. Since May 5, when the WSDA announced the first Washington case, all 34 infected flocks have had contact with wild waterfowl.

Veterinarians also continue to recommend avoiding bringing birds to fairs, exhibitions, poultry auctions and on-farm sales.

Enhanced biosecurity measures can protect flocks, including keeping birds under cover or away from ponds or water sources shared with wild waterfowl.

With temperatures still warm as we near summer’s end, Itle advises flock owners to assess risk factors and continue acting safely while allowing birds outside of extremely hot coops.

“It’s a double-edged sword: it’s not safe to let them out of long periods of time where they may come in contact with the virus, but it’s also not safe to leave them in a hot coop,” Itle added.

WSDA resources for flock owners to learn about bird flu and protect their flocks include a bird flu webpage, an interactive map, frequently asked questions, a Facebook group, and biosecurity precautions when resuming exhibitions.

If your flock experiences sudden death or illness of multiple birds, use the new online reporting tool at or call WSDA’s Sick Bird Hotline at 1-800-606-3056.

Birds that have already died should be double-bagged and kept in a cooler on ice until WSDA veterinarians can arrange for sampling. Sick or dead wild birds should not be touched or moved and can be reported using the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s online reporting tool.