Bird flu detected in San Juan County

Submitted by San Juan County.

Several wild Canadian geese collected from Crescent Beach in Eastsound tested positive for Avian Influenza Virus at the end of August. The geese were reported dead last week on the beach and were subsequently tested for AIV. These results are the first lab confirmed AIV cases in migratory wild birds (a bald eagle was confirmed positive in May 2022). Further laboratory tests will determine the variant of AIV found in the birds; however, it is presumed to be a variant of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), such as HPAI H5N1.

Migratory birds frequently visit San Juan County during Spring and Autumn months. Domestic bird owners are advised to take measures to protect their flocks, including keeping birds under cover or away from water sources shared with wild waterfowl.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, avian influenza is a highly contagious disease among birds, however risk of it spreading to people remains very low.

While the risk of humans contracting AIV is low, we recommend the following to protect your health:

Do not touch or handle any sick or dead birds. Also, do not attempt to transport them to a veterinarian or your own property for treatment. Moving sick animals can spread the virus to areas where it did not exist before.

• Bird hunters should follow standard safety steps to avoid potential exposure to avian influenza and other viruses or bacteria.

• Chicken, eggs and other poultry and poultry products are safe to eat when properly handled and cooked. Be sure to follow these steps for safer food:

1. Wash hands and clean and sanitize work surfaces and equipment before and after contact with raw poultry

2. Don’t wash meat, chicken, turkey, or eggs. Washing raw meat, chicken, turkey, or eggs can spread germs to your sink, countertops, and other surfaces in your kitchen. Cooking poultry thoroughly will kill harmful germs

3. Separate raw and cooked meat to avoid cross-contamination

4. Cook poultry thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit

5. Keep poultry stored at 40 degrees F or below or, in the freezer at 0 degrees F or below

• Keep an eye on pets to ensure they do not come in contact with dead or sick animals who may have been exposed to HPAI.

Here is how to report both wild and domestic sick and dead birds:

• Report sick/dead domestic birds using the online form (, or call the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Avian Health Program: 1-800-606-3056. Visit Avian Influenza | Washington State Department of Agriculture for more information about how to protect backyard flocks.

• Use an online form ( to report sick/dead wild birds suspected of avian influenza to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.