Scientists have known for some time that avian flu can mutate and become to infect human beings. That’s why scientific authorities worldwide keep close track of the spread of new types of bird flu.
In this regard, the United States Agriculture Department reported on Wednesday, December 17th that two strains of avian influenza have been confirmed among wild birds in northern Washington state, but there is no reason for immediate public health concern or risk of transmission to humans.
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More details on confirmed bird flu cases in the US
According to the USDA statement, two separate virus strains were identified in Whatcom County, Washington, including the H5N2 strain in several northern pintail ducks. That is the strain that has killed thousands of birds on two farms in British Columbia over the last few months. The other bird flu virus strain, H5N8, was identified in captive gyrfalcons that had eaten wild birds.
Related to this, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on an outbreak of H5N2 virus in a flock of chickens in Texas in 2004. That was the first outbreak of the virus in the U.S. in 20 years and no human beings contracted the virus during that outbreak.
The H5N1 bird flu, which severely impacted poultry in Asia for several years, came into focus as a global pandemic concern in 2003 it it spreads more easily among human beings.
Ongoing surveillance of birds in area
The USDA statement highlighted that Washington State authorities, the USDA and other federal partners are working together on surveillance and testing of birds in the area. All bird owners, commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, are strongly encouraged to maintain effective biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and to report any sick birds or unexplained bird deaths to government officials. Anyone with bird flu-related information is encouraged to call the USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.