Bird Flu found in Whatcom County

BELLINGHAM -- It is a problem that has come home to roost.

"One of the biggest problems we have in western Washington is we're on the flyway for international migration of water fowl and they can carry all sorts of disease,” chicken rancher Bruce King said.

Bruce king runs Big Pig Farm in Arlington.

He has 2 to 3 hundred chickens and a couple of guinea fowl.

He says with the bird flu doing a lot of damage in B.C. now is the time for Washington ranchers to be on the lookout to keep their domestic birds safe.

"Mostly it's around feed. If you take care of where you feed your chickens and how much feed you leave out it won't attract wild birds. If you have a couple hundred birds or even if you have ten birds when you have one die take a look at it make sure you know why it died because the death of one of your domestic flock is often your first indicator you have some sort of disease,” King said.

King believes the biggest concern is for small flocks. The big commercial flocks, he says should be OK.

"The commercial flocks are the most managed flocks in the state. They're usually kept indoors at all times and so they're at the least risk, usually, for this sort of disease,” King said.

An Avian Flu outbreak in the southern part of British Columbia has spread to at least seven poultry farms, and 155,000 birds have died from the virus or will be euthanized.

But there have been no reports of this strain of bird flu in Washington’s domestic poultry population.

And ranchers like Bruce King want to keep it that way.

"The effect of getting your flock infected is you may need to depopulate or get rid of all of them so if you keep your domestic fowl away from wild fowl you have a better chance of avoiding any sort of interaction and that's what you want,” King said.

The WSDA will hold a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. this Thursday Dec. 18 in the Mt. Baker Rotary building at the Fairgrounds in Lynden.

Persons seeing sickness in domestic birds are asked to contact the WSDA Avian Health Program at 1-800-606-3056. Sick and dead wild birds should be reported to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at 1-800-606-8768. If you are concerned about sickness in you or your family, please contact Washington State Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127.