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Ag Officials Look For Avian Flu in Washington

The discovery of avian flu in chickens and turkeys in British Columbia is prompting Washington state officials to take steps to protect against the spread of the virus. An outbreak of avian flu in British Columbia's Fraser valley has resulted in seven countries, including the US, putting trade restrictions on imports of poultry products.

Canadian officials have ordered more than 140,000 chickens and turkeys at five different farms to be euthanized. Washington state agriculture department spokesman Mike Louisell says his agency is now monitoring the situation here.

Louisell: "We're monitoring the events but increasing surveillance sampling on poultry and farms along the Canadian border, primarily in Whatcom County.”

Louisell says so far tests have been negative for the avian virus. That monitoring is also including wild birds that may carry the disease across the border. He recommends that farmers or anyone with backyard flocks monitor their birds for any suspicious signs.

Louisell: “Are they all of a sudden inactive, are they tending to separate themselves from other members of the flock, are they having respiratory problems, neurological problems, twisting of the neck of falling to one side or the other?”

Louisell says there is more information about the symptoms on the ag department's Facebook page. He says there is a toll free number that anyone can call to report those symptoms, and agriculture officials will send out someone to check your flock. The number is 1-800-606-3056.

Canadian officials say there are no cases of the avian flu being passed to humans from infected birds.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.
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