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The second case of Avian flu in Washington this year is reported in Spokane

Flock of watching hens in backyard.
Courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture
Chickens experience different symptoms of Avian flu than waterfowl, say veterinarians.

A state veterinarian says a dead goose had exhibited signs of neurologic damage.

The Washington Department of Agriculture says Spokane County has its first case of Avian flu this year.

“We had a private veterinarian submit a dead goose last week and prior to death the bird was showing neurologic signs," said Washington state veterinarian Dr. Amber Itle in a video briefing.

"It was actually a goose that was not acting afraid of humans, so it was allowing the owners to come up and pet it, which was not normal behavior for this bird. It was shaking its head and it wasn’t moving and it was walking really abnormally, so those would all be consistent with neurologic signs," she said.

Itle says the site where the birds lived has been quarantined and all of the animals killed to prevent spread of the disease.

She said different birds infected with Avian flu show different symptoms.

“Typically in water fowl, both wild and domestic water fowl, we’re more likely to see these neurologic signs, whereas in birds like chickens or turkeys, guinea fowl, we see more classic signs of avian influenza, which are respiratory signs. We might see discolored combs, difficulty breathing, nasal discharge, ocular discharge and swelling. Those are the types of things you want to keep an eye out for," she said.

It’s the second case of Avian flu in the state. The first was reported last week in Pacific County on the southwest coast. A case has also been reported in western Oregon.

Itle says the disease is most likely carried by wild birds migrating through the area.

“We really want to encourage flock owners out there to keep their birds away from ponds, away from shared water sources. Preferably bring them in or bring them under cover. So, if you have an outdoor run, it would be great if you could cover that outdoor run or that you could prevent some free ranging of those flocks for some period of time, at least for a few more weeks until we think that the waterfowl have migrated north and decreased the risk," she said.

Itle says the virus can also be spread through the air or by people and animals carrying it on their feet as they move around.

She says the Avian flu, so far, has proven to be harmful only to animals, not yet to people.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.