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Small territory in Eastern Oregon put under quarantine for bird flu risk

A quarantine has been established in a portion of Malheur County to guard against bird flu spread. (Les Zaitz/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

A new poultry quarantine has been declared in Eastern Oregon after avian flu was detected across the border in Idaho.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture imposed the regional quarantine, which affects a small area in Malheur County south of the farming community of Nyssa.

Dr. Ryan Scholz, Oregon state veterinarian, explained Thursday that the quarantine restricts movement of poultry out of the affected area. The quarantine could last about two weeks.

Federal and state officials have been watching carefully for the highly contagious disease, which has led to the euthanasia of commercial and backyard poultry flocks in several places in the U.S.

The Idaho case was detected about two miles east of the Oregon border, and the Malheur County territory fell within a six-mile quarantine radius.

He said surveillance teams are making their first check of area flocks, looking for signs of the disease. A second check will be done about 14 days later, and if no disease is found, the quarantine would be lifted.

An area in Linn County in the Willamette Valley is about halfway through a quarantine period after the disease was found in a local flock.

Scholz said poultry owners should watch for signs of the disease. A sudden death among birds is the most obvious indicator, he said. He said birds that otherwise seem lethargic or are having trouble breathing could be infected.

Those with domestic poultry who may be infected should report to the state agency’s sick bird hotline: 800-347-7028.

Anyone who suspects a wild bird might be infected can call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife hotline, 866-968-2600.

Authorities said people with backyard flocks should keep their animal habitats clean and covered if possible and follow biosecurity guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Owners should try to ensure their chickens don’t have contact with wild birds, which spread the virus.