WASHINGTON — USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service continues to prepare for any potential findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).
An outbreak of HPAI during spring and summer 2015 was the largest animal health emergency in the country’s history.
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.
As part of the wild bird surveillance effort, APHIS and its wildlife agency partners will be sampling more than 40,000 wild birds between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016 — with more than 24,000 samples already tested. Samples are being collected from both hunter-harvested birds and from wild bird mortalities.
As part of these surveillance efforts, Eurasian H5 avian influenza was recently found in genetic material collected from a wild duck, but testing was unable to determine the exact strain of the viruses or whether they were high pathogenic or low pathogenic. This recent finding of Eurasian H5 was in a wild, hunter-harvested mallard duck in Morrow County, Ore. in November. No HPAI has been identified in any commercial or backyard poultry since June 17, 2015.
On Nov. 18, USDA reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) that all cases of HPAI in commercial poultry have been resolved and that the U.S. is again free of HPAI.
USDA states that 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. A biosecurity self-assessment and educational materials can be found at http://www.uspoultry.org/animal_husbandry/intro.cfm.
In addition, 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. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.