Update Jan. 27: More than 1,200 duck carcasses have been collected this week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.
WATERFOWL – An outbreak of avian cholera has killed about 500 birds at the McNary National Wildlife Refuge in south-central Washington this week.
Crews on Thursday were at the refuge collecting dead birds, the Tri-City Herald says.
The disease is not unusual in cold and wet weather but birds are susceptible this year because the cold and snow have left them stressed, said Dan Haas of the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Most of the birds that have died are mallard ducks. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service workers also have found a few great blue herons, belted kingfishers and northern harriers, which are a bird of prey, that have died on the refuge.
A waterfowl specialist at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife says the outbreak appears to be localized.
People are not at high risk of infection by the bacteria that causes avian cholera.