USDA confirms H5N2 avian flu in Alaska wild duck

The wild mallard duck was captured from a state wildlife refuge near Fairbanks, Alaska, and a sample tested as part of ongoing wild bird surveillance.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in a wild mallard duck from a state wildlife refuge near Fairbanks, Alaska.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention considers the risk to the general public from these HPAI H5 infections to be low. No human infections with Eurasian H5 viruses have occurred in the U.S. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165°F kills bacteria and viruses, including HPAI.

H5N2 HPAI has NOT been found in the U.S. — in either wild or commercial birds — since June 2015. However, anyone involved with poultry production from the small backyard to the large commercial producer should review their biosecurity activities to assure the health of their birds, APHIS emphasized. To facilitate such a review, a biosecurity self-assessment and educational materials can be found at http://www.uspoultry.org/animal_husbandry/intro.cfm.

The U.S. actively works with its partners to look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations. The wild mallard duck was captured and a sample tested as part of ongoing wild bird surveillance. Since July 1, 2016, USDA and its partners have tested approximately 4,000 samples, with a goal to collect approximately 30,000 samples before July 1, 2017. Approximately 45,500 samples were tested during wild bird surveillance from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016.

Since wild birds can be infected with these viruses without appearing sick, people should minimize direct contact with wild birds by using gloves.

In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.

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