PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza (125): Americas (USA) Caspian terns, HPAI suspected, RFI


A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Thu 3 Aug 2023
Source: The Islands’ Weekly [edited]

A significant mortality event last week among Caspian Terns at Rat
Island near Port Townsend raises concerns about a possible late summer
outbreak of avian flu (HPAI) in our area. Dozens of terns died,
according to state biologists and local-area press reports.

Rat Island is part of Fort Flagler State Park and is about 25 miles
[40.2 km] from both the Skagit Flats and smaller wetlands in the San
Juan Island where migratory waterfowl and seabirds nest and feed in
summer. Caspian terns are often seen in Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island,
near Eastsound and in False Bay, San Juan Island, where they interact
with other migratory birds and resident shore birds such as Great Blue
Herons feeding on small fish in shallow waters.

If you encounter a dead duck, goose, swan, tern, “sea duck” or other
sea- or shorebird along a San Juan County shoreline, please contact
with location details and include a photo if
possible. Do not handle the dead bird, but if feasible, cover it with
whatever is at hand to deter scavengers. The Washington Department of
Fish and Wildlife has authorized Kwiaht to collect samples for
testing, and dispose safely of bird carcasses.

In the event that you do come into contact with a dead tern or other
sea- or shorebird, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly as soon as
possible. Wash any clothing that may have come into contact with the
carcass. Avian flu is highly contagious to domestic poultry, such as
chickens or ducks, and can infect scavengers and bird predators such
as eagles, hawks, vultures and owls as well as some mammals, although
as yet human infections are extremely rare.

The current global outbreak of H5N1 avian flu has not affected
songbirds, which are still nesting in our area. Fledglings are prone
to accidents; if you find injured songbirds, please contact Wolf
Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at 378-5000. Diseases of
songbirds such as Salmonellosis are unrelated to avian flu, and are
not transmitted between songbirds and waterfowl.

[Byline: Russel Barsh]

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