Western States Detect Bird Flu: How to Protect Your Flock

| 2/21/2015 12:51:00 PM

Tags: chickens, disease, Idaho, Gretchen Anderson,

Father and kids feeding ducks 

When I testify at hearings on proposed backyard chicken ordinances, the opposition always brings up, as one of the arguments against hens, the notion that chickens spread disease. In the past, I’ve scoffed at this because they don’t spread disease—any more than any other animal.

Now, things have changed. And, it’s up to us, as thoughtful hen keepers, to do what we can to help abate the spread of Avian Influenza.


Five states, located in the Pacific Flyway (where wild waterfowl migrate) have had recent incidences of waterfowl and/or backyard chickens testing positive for Avian Influenza. Those states include, California, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Idaho. The other states in the Flyway, that have so far dodged this bullet are, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming.

In my home state of Idaho, the Department of Agriculture recently confirmed the H5N2 strain of the Avian Influenza virus in three falcons from a private, non-commercial flock outside of Boise. The falcons were exposed to the virus after contact with a wild duck. Additionally, a small backyard poultry flock in in the same area was identified as having chickens positive for H5N2. That flock was immediately put under quarantine and the birds were depopulated. Ultimately, the state quarantined a six-square mile area in two counties until the threat passed and no new cases arose.

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