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Routine surveillance finds avian flu virus in MontanaRoutine surveillance finds avian flu virus in Montana

USDA detects Eurasian lineage H5 avian flu in a wild mallard duck in Montana.

Tim Lundeen 1

January 10, 2017

2 Min Read
Routine surveillance finds avian flu virus in Montana

As part of a national routine surveillance program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced Jan. 9 that it has detected the presence of Eurasian/North American reassortant H5N2 avian influenza in a wild mallard duck in Fergus County, Mont. No illness or mortalities in domestic poultry in the U.S. have been detected.

The sample, taken from a hunter-harvested bird, was tested at the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and forwarded to USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. Characterization of the sample is ongoing.

“This appears to be one of the strains we saw during the outbreak in 2014 and 2015,” USDA chief veterinarian Dr. Jack Shere said. “This finding serves as a powerful reminder that there is still avian influenza circulating in wild birds, and producers and industry need to continue to be vigilant about biosecurity to protect domestic poultry.”

Wild migratory waterfowl are a natural reservoir for avian influenza, and these viruses can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention considers the risk to the general public from these H5 HPAI infections to be low. No human infections 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 avian influenza.

The U.S. has the strongest avian influenza surveillance program in the world, and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.

Anyone involved with poultry production, from small backyard to large commercial producers, should review their biosecurity activities to assure the health of their birds. To facilitate such a review, a biosecurity self-assessment can be found at www.uspoultry.org/animal_husbandry/intro.cfm.

USDA recently launched "Defend the Flock," a new educational campaign that provides commercial poultry owners and growers, as well as the poultry industry and federal/state/local animal health officials, resources to help ensure that the best biosecurity practices are used to protect commercial flocks from infectious disease. Defend the Flock information can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/defendtheflock.

Hunters should dress game birds in the field whenever possible and practice good biosecurity to prevent any potential disease spread. Biosecurity information for hunters is available at www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/2015/fsc_hpai_hunters.pdf.

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 (866) 536-7593.

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