The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic (HPAI) H5N8 avian influenza in guinea fowl and chickens from a small backyard poultry flock in Winston, Oregon. The flock of approximately 100 birds has access to the outdoors. A pond and a marsh on the premises are frequented by migratory birds.

Oregon map Image/ National Atlas of the United States
Oregon map
Image/ National Atlas of the United States

This has prompted the State of Oregon to activate a multi-agency response plan. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is the lead state agency responding to the incident, working closely with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Oregon Health Authority. The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) will play a key role in the response as well.

The USDA emphasizes that the H5N8 virus has NOT been found in commercial poultry anywhere in the United States. In addition, they say there is no immediate public health concern, as the H5N8 virus has been found in birds in other parts of the world and has not caused any human infection to date.

The finding in Oregon was quickly reported and identified due to increased awareness of avian influenza in light of the high path avian influenza findings in wild birds in Washington earlier this week. This H5N8 virus is the same virus that was found in a Washington captive gyrfalcon.

ODA is advising commercial poultry growers and backyard flock owners to be vigilant with biosecurity measures and surveillance.

“Steps are being taken to contain the disease and we have not diagnosed avian influenza elsewhere in Oregon’s domestic poultry population, but the presence of the virus in migratory waterfowl poses a potential risk to our backyard poultry,” says ODA’s State Veterinarian Dr. Brad LeaMaster. “This event underscores the importance of biosecurity for backyard bird owners. We strongly encourage owners to take biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. That includes preventing contact between their birds and wild birds. We also want them to monitor their flock closely and report sick birds.”

USDA notified the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) of this detection as required by the OIE. USDA expects trading partners to respond to this reported detection according to OIE’s science-based standards. USDA is working with trading partners to minimize trade impacts on poultry and poultry products as much as possible.