Bird flu virus has been found in domestic birds in Benton County, state says

OLYMPIA -- Bird flu has been discovered in domestic birds in Benton County, the Washington State Department of Agriculture announced Friday.

"There is no immediate public health concern due to the avian influenza virus detected," the department said. "Avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which remain safe to eat. As always, both wild and domestic poultry should be properly cooked."

It said the H5 avian flu virus was found in birds from a backyard poultry flock near Benton City. The flock of about 150 birds includes domestic waterfowl with access to the outdoors, it said, and it noted there is also a pond on the land that is frequented by migratory birds.

"The virus has not been found in commercial poultry anywhere in Washington or the United States," the department said.

It added that the bird owner contacted the department after nearly 50 of his birds died in the past week.

The department said it had activated a multi-agency response plan and will work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service in this case.

On Dec. 16, the USDA confirmed two different strains of H5 avian flu virus had been found in wild birds in Whatcom County. See our story on that here >>>

The Washington State Department of Agriculture said deaths or illness among domestic birds should be reported to the WSDA Avian Health Program at 1-800-606-3056. For wild birds, contact the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife at 1-800-606-8768.