USDA updates interagency HPAI surveillance plans

USDA releases two updated interagency plans related to the surveillance of avian influenza in wild birds in preparation for the fall migration.

On July 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) released two updated interagency plans related to the surveillance of avian influenza in wild birds.

As part of USDA's ongoing preparation efforts for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), these updated plans will help USDA with further monitoring of wild birds for the HPAI virus during the fall migration. Between now and March 2016, HPAI surveillance in wild birds will increase as APHIS Wildlife Services biologists and their state partners collect approximately 41,000 samples from apparently healthy wild birds from targeted areas throughout the U.S.

The first updated plan — "U.S. Interagency Strategic Plan for Early Detection & Monitoring for Avian Influenzas of Significance in Wild Birds" describes a unified national system for migratory wild bird sampling involving federal, state, university and non-governmental organizations.

The second updated plan — "2015 Surveillance Plan for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Waterfowl in the United States" — outlines specific wild bird surveillance efforts for 2015-16.

These efforts were led by the Interagency Steering Committee for Surveillance for HPAI in Wild Birds, which is comprised of experts from APHIS, the Department of the Interior's U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the National Flyway Council.

"The early detection of avian influenza remains key to controlling its spread and minimizing its effects," USDA chief veterinary officer Dr. John Clifford said. "Many of the activities outlined in these plans are already being implemented and help warn us of any re-assortments or changes in low or highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in wild birds which could be detrimental to our domestic flocks."

Samples will be collected primarily from live-captured and hunter-harvested dabbling ducks, such as American black duck, American green-winged teal, mallard and Northern pintail. Additionally, environmental fecal samples from waterfowl and samples from morbidity and mortality events of all wild bird species also will be collected. Results from the surveillance effort will be incorporated into national risk assessments as well as preparedness and response planning efforts so that HPAI risks are reduced in commercial poultry, backyard poultry, game bird farms, wild birds, wild bird rehabilitation facilities, falconry birds, and captive bird collections in zoos/aviaries.

Additional information about USDA avian influenza surveillance and emergency response efforts can be found at www.usda.gov/avianinfluenza.

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