Avian flu outbreak kills 700 waterfowl around Skagit Bay
State biologists from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) say they’re seeing what looks like an outbreak of avian influenza after reports came in of sick or dead waterfowl in Skagit and Snohomish Counties.
The recent outbreak comes after around 450 dead birds were removed from Wiser Lake in Whatcom County about a month ago. From fall through spring, western Skagit County, Island County, and northwestern Snohomish County are major feeding and roosting areas for snow geese and other migratory waterfowl.
Wildlife officials have recovered more than 700 dead birds, most of them juvenile snow geese, on the beaches surrounding Skagit Bay. The birds were tested for avian influenza, or bird flu, with H5N1 strain Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) suspected.
Avian flu is an extremely contagious virus to birds, but something officials say isn’t easily spread to people. All the same, officials advise the public to avoid all contact with sick and dead birds for fear that they will spread the disease. Officials tell the public to avoid all contact with sick or dead birds and to keep their pets away — as dogs can become infected.
“If a dead bird must be moved, it is best to wear disposable gloves while handling it and to double bag and dispose of the carcass in the garbage where pets and scavengers can’t reach it,” WDFW officials advise.
You can also report on the WDFW website for the removal of any infected birds, as resources are available, biologists may respond to remove bird carcasses. Due to the magnitude of this outbreak, WDFW staff will not be able to respond to all reported cases.
It’s also happening in northwestern Snohomish County, on Camano Island, and Port Susan in Island County.
For additional information on avian influenza, you can learn more here.