Bird flu reported in Snohomish County, local sanctuary takes precautions

The battle to contain the devastating bird flu in Washington continues. The Department of Agriculture (WSDA)says the disease has now been identified in Snohomish County, with infected birds turning up in a backyard flock near Monroe

That's the ninth county to be identified as having a case or cases of Avian Influenza. 

Pasado's Safe Haven is located in Snohomish County, not far from Monroe. Staff there are taking every precaution to keep their flocks of rescued birds from getting the disease. 

The turkey flock has already been moved to a small barn in order to keep them safe.

"They are pretty independent, but these guys are also very sweet," said Ashley Wisdom, a senior manager at the sanctuary.

To prevent ‘Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza’ (HPAI) from Killing the flock, the birds are in quarantine in the barn. To keep them from getting bored, staff has been providing them with hanging bird toys and a xylophone.

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They've also been playing videos on iPhones and iPads to keep the turkeys preoccupied.

When FOX 13 News visited Monday, the caretakers put on a video of ‘Tom and Jerry’ for the birds. 

"They like to watch movies," said Stephanie Perciful, the sanctuary's director. "Treats, puzzles and toys, and things like that."

Before they can enter the grounds, staff and visitors are required to scrub their shoes, spray their clothes and disinfect their tires.

To get inside the pens with the animals, caretakers and visitors must suit up with PPE and sanitize their hands. 

All the sanctuary's 50+ birds have also been moved indoors, and roofs have been built over all outdoor enclosures, so that nothing can drop on them from above. 

"All of the domestic transmissions, domestic positives, in Washington State have been transmitted from wild waterfowl. So, we want to make sure that there is no droppings, feathers, anything like that coming in," said Perciful.

The WSDA reports that HPAI was found in a small backyard flock in Snohomish County just last month. Stephanie said the cases are hitting close to the sanctuary. 

"There are two cases in Monroe, which is very close to us. So, while Washington State doesn’t have a lot of cases, we do have two right on top of us, which is very worrisome," said Stephanie. 

The WSDA said birds spread Avian Influenza though saliva, nasal secretions, feces or infected equipment. Symptoms include discharge, ruffled feathers, decreased appetite or drinking, and decreased egg production.

"It’s a horrible, horrible death. It’s a very violent, painful death for these birds," said Stephanie. "You should report if you have birds dying, or showing any of the symptoms, and then the Department of Agriculture will come out and euthanize the rest of your flock. For one, we don’t want these birds to suffer."

To protect your birds, WSDA said it's a good idea to:

  • Limit contact with your birds
  • Do not allow visitors and other animals access
  • Provide visitors with disposable boots
  • Clean shoes before and after handling them

"They like to have their feathers scratched over their wings," said Ashley, giving their gray turkey Stella some pets. 

Pasado's Safe Haven will keep Stella and her flock entertained and indoors until the threat passes.

"You don’t want them to be bored. We all went through quarantine. They are basically going through quarantine. They are like us. This is their COVID," said Stephanie. 

Bird flu found in ducks, geese at Bellevue and Seattle parks

Officials with Public Health - Seattle and King County announced that several wild ducks and geese found on public parks in Seattle and Bellevue have tested for bird flu.

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The caretakers say they used to grow grass in containers outside for the birds, but they’ve moved the containers inside into a greenhouse in order to keep the birds extra safe.

"Our plan is to dump them all and sanitize them and regrow grass in a greenhouse," said Stephanie.

If you experience unexplained illness or death in your flock, the Washington State Department of Agriculture is asking that you call the WSDA Avian Health Program at 1-800-606-3056.