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Watchdog Group Says Keep Lookout for Birds with Avian Flu on Oregon Coast

Published 12/17/22 at 1:25 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Watchdog Group Says Keep Lookout for Birds with Avian Flu on Oregon Coast

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(Oregon Coast) – Oregon officials have been warning about this for awhile, and this week the watchdog group Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition (OSCC) wants to remind visitors on the Oregon coast: watch for signs of avian flu along the beaches of the region. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection: gulls at Yachats)

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has been asking the public to report any sightings of three or more sick or dead wild birds, not just on the beaches but anywhere in the state. It's a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), a contagious disease confirmed in multiple species of birds around the area. ODFW wants to test any such birds that fit the symptomatic descriptions.

To report such finds, call the Wildlife Health Lab at 866-968-2600 or email odfw.wildlifehealth@odfw.oregon.gov.


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OSCC said the typical signs of the disease include cloudy eyes, shaking or swinging the neck around, swimming in circles, and incoordination. Areas that also include abnormal wild mammals should also be reported, as avian influenza has spread to other species beyond fowl.

“As a reminder, although rare, HPAI can spread to humans,” OSCC said. “It has also been reported in black bears (in Alaska), so it is clearly not only 'avian.' Do not handle any sick wildlife, and wash your hands thoroughly if you have any interactions."

ODFW said the highly pathogenic avian flu is the H5N1 Eurasian strain or EA H5, first detected in 2021 in different species of every waterfowl flyway in the continent.

It's unknown how many have been found along the Oregon coast, but ODFW said it's been detected in aquatic birds and shorebirds, including gulls. ODFW said back in May it hasn't detected anything yet in hunter-harvested birds that were turned over after being deemed suspicious.

OSCC said you should take extra precautions if you happen across an area along the Oregon coast with such issues.

“Please sterilize your footwear after you visit the beach by dipping or spraying your shoes in a bleach/water solution before entering your home to keep pets and you from spreading any germs,” the group said.

According to US Fish and Wildlife Service: "Outbreaks of Eurasian lineage highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses have been impacting domestic poultry and wild bird populations in Europe and Asia since August 2020. The introduction of the Eurasian lineage HPAI to North America occurred in late 2021, and at least two additional virus introductions have occurred since then.

HPAI cases have now been confirmed in both domestic and wild birds in numerous locations throughout Canada and the United States. The strain of HPAI now present in North America has caused extensive morbidity and mortality events in various wild bird species, similar to that seen in Europe and Asia."

ODFW said more transmissions have been found in fowl in captivity than in the wild, however wild birds have had a higher mortality rate.

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Brown pelican courtesy Portland Audoban



Snowy plover photo courtesy Oregon State Parks

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