Avian flu kills baby raccoons in Washington state park, a first in North America

Jun 17, 2022, 5:44 PM
(KIRO 7)...
(KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

The first confirmed case of avian flu in a mammal in Washington state was detected in a baby raccoon at Sacajawea Historical State Park in Pasco, WA.

This is the first case of avian flu confirmed in a raccoon in North America, according to the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The agency is warning pet owners not to let their dogs and cats scavenge sick or dead birds or other wildlife or even interact with sick wildlife.

Four raccoon kits with apparent avian influenza were found at the park at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers earlier this month, according to Fish and Wildlife. One was tested to confirm the disease.

Two of the kits were dead, and the other two were obviously sick and were euthanized.

Avian flu was detected in the Tri-Cities in Central Washington in baby geese in May.

Visitors to Sacajawea Park were finding dead goslings and baby geese that were walking in circles, having seizures, sitting still and letting people approach them.

That was followed by reports of more geese with avian flu across the Tri-Cities area; a mallard, a duck and a crow in Richland; a gull at Sacajawea Park; and a sandhill crane in Connell.

To date, Benton and Franklin counties are not among the 10 counties in Washington with outbreaks in backyard poultry flocks. However, flocks in Spokane and Yakima counties have tested positive.

While sick goslings, in particular, continue to be reported, officials have been receiving fewer reports than initially, said Staci Lehman with the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Avian flu, or bird flu, is very contagious among birds. It is spread through saliva and feces and surfaces contaminated with them, such as the bottom of shoes.


Avian flu has previously been detected in red foxes and skunks in North America. Elsewhere in the world, it has infected pigs in Asia, domestic cats in Germany, and a domestic dog in Thailand.

There’s the potential for it to infect other mammals as bird flu viruses evolve, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife does not expect the spread of avian flu to have a large impact at this time on wildlife in the state.

People should be watching for it in their backyard flocks of chickens and ducks.

One strain of avian flu, highly pathogenic avian influenza, HPAI, is generally fatal for birds. But there may be no signs of disease or mild signs such as ruffled feathers or a drop in egg production in the low pathogenic avian influenza, or LPAI, strain.

A single sick bird in a flock should be reported to your veterinarian. If multiple birds die or have an unusual illness, you are asked to call the state sick bird hotline at 800-606-3056.

There is no treatment for the disease.

Avian flu is not easily transmissible from birds to people, but there are occasional cases.

Just one case in a person in the United States has been reported this spring. A person who had handled infected poultry tested positive for an avian flu virus.

People who see a wild bird or mammal that appears to be infected or dead should contact Fish and Wildlife.

Any sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website. Search wdfw.wa.gov for “report wildlife observations” to find the correct form.


Fish and Wildlife recommends common sense precautions to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading avian flu or any wildlife disease:

▪ Wear disposable gloves when cleaning harvested birds or cleaning bird feeders.

▪ Do not dispose of processed bird carcasses in the field where they could be eaten by scavengers or raptors. Bag them and place in the garbage, bury or incinerate them.

▪ Ensure that all equipment (boots, clothes, vehicles, firearms) are cleaned and disinfected to prevent the spread of diseases.

▪ Do not harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick or found dead.

▪ Do not eat, drink or smoke while cleaning game.

▪ Wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol hand sanitizer immediately after handling game or cleaning bird feeders.

▪ Wash tools and work surfaces used to clean game birds with soap and water, then disinfect with a 10% solution of chlorine bleach.

▪ Separate raw meat, and anything it touches, from cooked or ready-to-eat foods to avoid contamination.

▪ Cook game birds thoroughly. Meat should reach an internal temperature of 155 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill disease organisms and parasites.

▪ If you experience flu-like symptoms following contact with sick or dead wild birds or have concerns about potential exposure to infected birds, contact the Benton Franklin Health District for recommendations and guidance on monitoring symptoms or possible testing.



FILE - A vial containing the monkeypox vaccine and a syringe is set on the table at a vaccination c...
Associated Press

Vaccine appears to protect against monkeypox, CDC says

WASHINGTON (AP) — At-risk people who received a single dose of the monkeypox vaccine in U.S. efforts against the virus appeared to be significantly less likely to get sick, public health officials announced Wednesday, even as they urged a second dose for full protection. It was the first look public health officials have offered into […]
6 days ago
(NIAID via AP)...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Gov. Inslee issues order to combat monkeypox in Washington state

Joining efforts to fight the monkeypox outbreak in Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a directive to help the Washington State Department of Health’s ongoing efforts.
2 months ago
Lights on a downtown Seattle building form a giant figure "12" in honor of Seattle Seahawks fans an...
MyNorthwest Staff

Seattle skyline to display No. 14 in celebration of Mariners winning streak

Russell Investments Center in Downtown Seattle will display No. 14 on Thursday night.
3 months ago
A Washington State Department of Agriculture worker displays an Asian giant hornet taken from a nes...
Nicole Jennings

Asian giant hornet trapping season kicks off in Washington

Now that July is here, the state is officially in Asian giant hornet trapping season. Scientists will be looking for the hornets in Whatcom County.
3 months ago
Follow @http://www.twitter.com/Darren_KIROnews...
Darren Dedo

Murder Charge In Deadly Shooting of Innocent Bystander

A Marysville man is charged with murder in connection to the death of a Lynnwood retiree.
4 months ago
Photo by John Moore...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Seattle Fire Department rescues man after scaffold collapse

A man was rescued after a scaffold collapsed in Seattle on Thursday, according to the Seattle Fire Department.
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Avian flu kills baby raccoons in Washington state park, a first in North America