A strain of H5N1 avian influenza has been detected in wild and domestic birds in many parts of the U.S., including in Washington State, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Although avian influenza is a highly contagious disease among birds, the risk of it spreading to people is very low. Infected birds shed the virus in their saliva, mucous and feces, and people can become infected if the virus gets into their eyes, nose or mouth or if it is breathed in.
These viruses occur naturally in wild aquatic birds, but can also infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl) and other species.
However, if you see a sick or dead bird, you should let the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife know, by completing a form at this website:
You can also report by calling 1-800-606-3056.
If you experience flu-like symptoms following contact with birds, contact your local health department. They can provide public health guidance and initiate symptom monitoring.
Here are two videos on the subject:
- WA State Department of Health: https://doh.wa.gov/avian-influenza
- WA Department of Fish and Wildlife: https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/diseases/bird-flu
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/