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Sonoma County declares emergency after 250,000 chickens, ducks euthanized

Sonoma County declares emergency after 250,000 chickens, ducks euthanized

 


(KRON) — The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency Tuesday following the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza at commercial poultry farms.

To protect other flocks in the region, approximately 250,000 birds were euthanized to prevent further disease spread. The outbreak was investigated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Supervisor David Rabbitt said he is concerned about potential financial impacts on the county’s agriculture community, noting, “There are still in the South County one million farm birds within a five-mile radius of one facility” impacted by the avian flu.

Southern Sonoma County poultry farms provide “hundreds of thousands of eggs each and every day” that supply the food chain for “the entire West Coast if not beyond,” Rabbitt said.

Farms where the infected flocks were detected are currently under quarantine.

Tuesday’s emergency proclamation by the Board of Supervisors provides additional public safety and emergency services to mitigate the effects of the disaster, including local emergency assistance for businesses that are impacted by the outbreak.  

Mike Weber, the co-owner of Sunrise Farms in Petaluma, said around 82,000 of his egg-laying chickens had to be euthanized after birds started testing positive for avian flu. “They are posing a risk to the neighboring farms, so we are sacrificing the life of these birds so we can remove the risk of spreading like a wildfire,” Weber said.

Down the street from his chicken farm, a duck farm lost all 170,000 of its ducks due to the bird flu, Weber told KRON4.

Although avian influenza is a highly contagious and often fatal disease in birds, the detected strain is considered low-risk to human health, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The spread of the virus is promoted by wild birds, especially wild waterfowl such as ducks and geese. As wild waterfowl migrate south in the fall season, there is increased movement of birds that are potential carriers of the virus, county officials said.

Poultry owners with flocks that have experienced any unusual or suspicious illness or deaths should call the Sick Bird Hotline at 866-922-2473.

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