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Animal experts warn about handling birds that appear to be sick

Courtesy of the federal Centers for Disease Control

More than 30 cases of Avian flu have been reported in Washington this year.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials are issuing a new warning related to Avian flu. If you discover any wild birds that appear to be sick, do not try to take care of them yourself.

Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Staci Lehman says the agency is discouraging well-intentioned people from spreading the illness.

“By picking up a sick bird there is a small chance the virus could pass to humans," she said. "The other concern is they're going to transport that bird somewhere, possibly to try to take care of it themselves or to take it to a rehabilitator or vet’s office. And that could potentially spread the virus to where it doesn't already exist.”

Lehman says there has been one instance reported in the U.S. in which a human caught the virus from a bird they had extended contact with.

She urges people to report any cases of sick wild birds on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

The agency also wants to hear about cases of wild birds found dead. Lehman has a different recommendation in that case.

“Pick it up and wear gloves or use a plastic bag. Cover your hands very well, bag it up, tie it real good, double bag it if you can, and push it down in the trash really far so if anything like a dog or raccoon gets into your trash they can't get to it," she said.

Lehman says 32 positive cases of avian flu have been reported in the state, three in Spokane County.