Department of Agriculture encourages caution around sick and dead birds

Avian bird influenza found in Washington and Oregon prompts USDA advisories

SPARKS, Nev. – The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) is recommending that bird owners in Nevada adopt extra healthy hygiene practices after avian bird influenza was found in Oregon and Washington.

While health risks to humans are low, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is warning people to avoid contact with sick or dead poultry or wildlife.

Nevada State Veterinarian Michael Greenlee said that the highly pathogenic (HPAI) H5 avian influenza virus has been found in birds in various parts of the world but has not been shown to cause any human infection. 

“All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, are encouraged to practice good biosecurity by preventing contact between their birds and wild birds and reporting sick birds or unusual bird deaths to officials,” he said. 

If contact occurs, wash hands with soap and water, and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

USDA APHIS confirmed in December the presence of HPAI in wild birds in Whatcom County, Washington. HPAI was also found in a small, backyard poultry flock in Oregon.

HPAI would have significant economic impacts if detected in U.S. domestic poultry. Commercial poultry producers should follow strict biosecurity practices and raise their birds in very controlled environments. 

Poultry and poultry products, including wild game birds, are safe to eat as long as proper handling and cooking guidelines are followed, Greenlee said.

Call USDA's toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593 if there is concern about sick or dying birds. Biosecurity practices for backyard flocks can be found at healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.