SRHD advises the public to avoid contact with dead or sick wild animals due to bird flu

Kelli Hawkins, SRHD | khawkins@srhd.org | 509.324.1539, c 509.994.8968

Spokane, Wash. – The Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) is asking the public to avoid contact with wildlife, especially sick or dead wild birds or their young. An outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), also known as bird flu, is affecting wild birds including but not limited to Canada geese, snow geese and raptors across the country and has been found in wild mammals, including a raccoon in Spokane County.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) states in its online blog that although the spread of HPAI from birds to wild mammals may be of concern, it is not unexpected, as has happened elsewhere, and there is no need to panic. Spread of the virus to humans remains unlikely and very rare.

SRHD officials recommend the following to protect your health:

  • Do not touch or handle sick or dead wild animals or attempt to transport them to a veterinarian or to your own property for treatment. Moving sick animals can spread the virus to areas where it did not previously exist.
  • Bird hunters should follow standard safety steps to avoid potential exposure to bird flu and other viruses or bacteria.
  • Chicken, eggs and other poultry and poultry products are safe to eat when properly handled and cooked. Be sure to follow these steps for safer foods:
    • Wash hands and clean and sanitize work surfaces and equipment before and after contact with raw poultry
    • Do not wash meat, chicken, turkey or eggs. Washing raw meat, chicken, turkey, or eggs can spread germs to your sink, countertops, and other kitchen surfaces. Cooking Poultry Properly Will Kill Harmful Germs
    • Separate raw and cooked meat to avoid cross-contamination
    • Thoroughly cook poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Keep poultry stored at 40 degrees F or less, or in the freezer at 0 degrees F or less
  • Keep an eye on pets to make sure they don’t come into contact with dead or sick animals that may have been exposed to HPAI.

Here’s how to report sick and dead wild and domestic birds:

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