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Bird Flu Unlikely To Fly Out Of The Northwest Anytime Soon

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Washington state agriculture officials are preparing for the scenario that highly-contagious bird flu will be in the Northwest — maybe for years.

Since December, Washington state and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have euthanized sick birds and set up quarantines from the Tri-Cities to Port Angeles.

“We don’t have anybody to rotate in for the people who have been working hard for two months now,” said Dr. Joe Baker, Washington’s top veterinarian.

Two cases in Okanogan County put down thousands of backyard birds over the past few days and Baker said more positive tests for bird flu may pop up, given what they’ve seen in Asia and Europe.

“We all expect that we face the potential to have these kind kind of positive flocks and positive wild waterfowl not only through the rest of this winter but possibly throughout the rest of 2015 and beyond as migratory birds work their way up and down the flyway,” Baker said.

Baker said it’s not clear how long government agriculture officials can afford to keep up their current pace.

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.