Bird flu confirmed in wild birds in Whatcom County; USDA says no cause for public concern

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday confirmed the presence of two different strains of H5 avian flu virus in wild birds in Whatcom County, but said there was no immediate public health concern.

"Both H5N2 and HFN8 viruses have been found in other parts of the world and have not caused any human infection to date," USDA said.

The department said HPAI H5N2 avian influenza was was discovered in northern pintail ducks and HPAI H5N8 strain was found in captive Gyrfalcons that were fed hunter-killed wild birds.

"Neither virus has been found in commercial poultry anywhere in the United States," USDA said.

The finding in Whatcom County was quickly reported and identified due to increased surveillance for avian influenza in light of the strain affecting commercial poultry in British Columbia, the USDA said.

The USDA, Washington state and other federal partners are working on additional surveillance and testing of birds in the nearby area.

All bird owners are encouraged to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and to report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials. Call your local vet or USDA's toll-free number at 866-536-7593. Additional information on biosecurity of backyard flocks can be found at

The Washington State Department of Agriculture said it will hold a town hall meeting Thursday to discuss the findings and steps poultry owners should take to protect their birds.

The town hall will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, in the Mount Baker Rotary Building at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden. It is open to the public.