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State Places Quarantine On Bird Flu Site Near Riverside, Washington

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Anna King
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Washington state has set a six-mile quarantine circle around a new major bird flu site in near Riverside in north-central Washington.

About 5,000 birds — mainly ducks but also geese, turkeys and chickens — are in the infected flock.

These animals were used in retriever-dog field trials. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials are on the scene now. Hector Castro with Washington’s Department of Agriculture said the team of government officials will likely start the bulk of the work next week and that 40 pheasants and all of the farm’s 14 turkeys have died.

In addition to lethargic behavior, symptoms of bird flu in fowl include "signs of respiratory distress, sneezing, discharge from the beak area," Castro said. "Some birds will display loss of motor control. Laying on the ground and flapping their wings, but unable to really move.”

It’s not clear yet if the entire flock will have to be dispatched, or where the birds will be disposed.

Riverside is usually a quiet bedroom community. In 130 years, it has burned down twice and flooded twice. But a major bird flu outbreak is a new experience for the historic town.

Sharma Dickinson is the sixth generation of her family who’s leaned on the land in Okanogan County. They were miners, dairy farmers and teachers. She’s the town’s clerk and treasurer and says people are talking over bird flu with their neighbors at the Riverside Grocery. It’s a dampened mood there.

“We are such a small community. And they rely on raising these birds for sale,” Dickinson said. ?“And now they have lost all that money. It’s just heartbreaking.”

Some government officials are on site, while others will arrive within a few days. And then the grim work begins to dispatch a still unknown number of the 5,000 birds.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.