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More bird flu cases confirmed in Washington state

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Additional cases of bird flu have been confirmed with the most recent in Whatcom and Okanogan counties, Washington state agricultural officials said Friday.

The cases were confirmed Thursday in non-commercial backyard flocks, the state Department of Agriculture said in a statement.

Flock owners contacted the state’s sick bird hotline to report an unusual number of sudden deaths and sickness in their flocks. The flocks, one with around 100 chickens and the other with nearly 30 chicken, ducks, and geese, are quarantined and will be euthanized, the statement said.

Cases of avian flu were also confirmed in backyard flocks in Spokane County earlier this week and last week in Pacific County.

The latest outbreak of avian flu hit North America in December and has led to the culling of about 37 million chickens and turkeys in U.S. farms since February. More than 35 million birds in flocks across 30 states have been affected.

State officials say reducing or eliminating contact between wild birds and domestic flocks is a key way to protect domestic birds from bird flu. Bird owners should bring their flocks inside or undercover to protect them from wild waterfowl, officials said.

“If flock owners could remain diligent for just a few weeks until the waterfowl complete their migration north, we are hopeful we can get through the worst of it with lower impact,” Dr. Amber Itle, Washington state veterinarian, said.

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