Sonoma Co. declares local emergency due to avian flu; 250,000 birds euthanized in Petaluma

Health officials are warning residents of the risk of close contact with a dead or diseased birds

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
250K birds euthanized in North Bay amid bird flu outbreak
In the North Bay, 250,000 birds are being euthanized at two poultry farms near Petaluma due to a bird flu outbreak.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency on Tuesday following detection of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza.

In the North Bay 250,000 birds are being euthanized at two poultry farms near Petaluma.

Officials are calling the outbreak the worst they've seen in Sonoma County.

Local authorities have been forced to put down a quarter-million birds.

"We have hens, roosters, we have whatever hatches," said Carol Paredes. She raises hens and roosters along with goats and cows on her three-acre property in Petaluma.

Health officials are warning residents of the risk of close contact with a dead or diseased birds.

News about the avian flu spreading concerns Paredes --to a degree.

"You are always concerned. You just try to do what you can to make sure they are OK. But, at the end of the day, there's not a lot I can really do about it. I can't put them in a bubble and prevent any other bird from coming and drinking out of their water," said Paredes.

Paredes lives right across the street from Sunrise Farms which is one of two commercial poultry operations in Petaluma devastated by the avian flu.

MORE: Egg prices reach record highs amid avian flu outbreak

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has euthanized 80,000 hens at Sunrise Farms and another 170,000 birds will be put down at Reichardt Duck Farm.

"It's heartbreaking," said Paredes. "I feel bad for them. That's their business. That's their livelihood."

ABC7 News reached out to Sunrise Farms and Reichardt Duck Farm for comment, but they did not return our calls.

"There are two commercial poultry flocks in the county that were impacted last week," said Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Andrew Smith.

"The California Department of Food and Agriculture and local agencies responded to mitigate the impact of that pathogen so that it doesn't spread to other farms, and to depopulate those facilities because there's no cure for highly pathogenic influenza," he said.

Food and agriculture experts expect avian flu will drive up the price of eggs in stores.

Experts say the avian flu was first detected in Sonoma County the week before Thanksgiving.

The avian flu impacted San Benito County this week.

The virus is highly contagious in domestic poultry-ducks, chickens, and turkeys and spread through water, feces, and bodily fluids.

To prevent the spread, experts say infected facilities are being quarantined and tested.

Whether it's a big poultry producer or a small flock owner like Paredes..."You can take precautions. But you can't prevent any of these. There are diseases that are becoming more and more prevalent," said Paredes.

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