As of May 5, High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has officially been identified in a chicken population in Linn County, OR. This is the first detection of this highly infectious disease in the state for the current epidemic and Think Wild is responding by adopting numerous quarantine and sanitization protocols, as well as providing recommendations for the public on how to minimize spread of this disease.
Avian Influenza is a virus that is caused by an Influenza Type A virus and occurs naturally in wild birds. H5N1 is a mutation of avian influenza that causes severe disease. This strain is considered a High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and is incredibly infectious, with about a 90% mortality rate for birds. Some birds, like waterfowl, can be completely asymptomatic, while others suffer from severe respiratory or neurological disease.
Wild aquatic birds can spread HPAI to other domestic and wild birds through respiratory secretions, feces, contact with contaminated surfaces, and contact with humans. Because of this virulence, many organizations in Oregon will not be accepting waterfowl—or any birds—this year. Currently, Think Wild is still accepting all native birds for care, including waterfowl. We hope to continue caring for the avian populations in need in our area. To that end, we have implemented strict quarantine and sanitation protocols for all waterfowl intakes and care, and for any birds exhibiting potential symptoms of HPAI. This could change at any moment, depending on the spread. In addition, to keep our population healthy, our policy for euthanasia will be much stricter for waterfowl and/or any bird that displays severe neurologic concern or respiratory symptoms on intake.
Think Wild’s quarantine and sanitation efforts include the following:
- Processing all waterfowl intakes outside, with immediate transfer of the patient to the waterfowl enclosure afterwards
- Keeping waterfowl patients of all ages in the same enclosure, rather than spreading them throughout the campus
- Cleaning all dishes, laundry, and other gear that have been used around waterfowl separately from the rest of the campus
- Requiring the use of eye protection, masks, gloves, and separate boots for all staff and volunteers working with or around waterfowl
- Maintaining a 15 to 20-foot exclusion zone from the waterfowl enclosure at all times when not entering the enclosure
- Requiring all staff and volunteers to use foot bath stations, containing a disinfectant that inactivates the virus, before and after entering all bird areas
There are steps we can all take at home as well, to prevent the transmission of HPAI. If you have bird baths and feeders around your home, Think Wild recommends that you regularly clean them with a diluted bleach solution. We do not recommend wooden feeders as they are difficult to disinfect. If you see any sick or dead birds around your feeders, take the feeders down immediately.
Think Wild is taking this outbreak very seriously and has implemented the above precautions to protect our avian patients, staff, volunteers, and other domestic and wild birds that we may come into contact with outside of the hospital. There are numerous resources to learn more about HPAI, including the USDA, the CDC, and USGS. Please call our wildlife hotline if you have any questions about wildlife or HPAI: (541) 241-8680.