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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the United States

By Ornithological Council


Wild duck in Washington State found to have novel strain of H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.
UPDATE 9 Feb 2015: Status of H5N1 in British Columbia.
UPDATE 19 Feb 2015: First published report available.
UPDATE 11 March 2015: H5N2 found in poultry flock in Minnesota, Missouri
UPDATE 14 March: H5N2 found in poultry flock in Kansas
UPDATE: 28 March 2015: H5N2 found in another flock in Minnesota
This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 12 ornithological societies. Join or renew your membership in your ornithological society if you value the services these societies provide to you, including Ornithology Exchange and the Ornithological Council!

Minnesota 28 March 2015: The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial turkey flock in Stearns County, Minnesota. This is the third confirmation in a commercial flock in Minnesota. The flock of 39,000 turkeys is located within the Mississippi flyway where this strain of avian influenza has previously been identified. CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with the virus have been detected at this time.
Minnesota 11 March 2015:
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Pope County, Minnesota.This is the first finding in the Mississippi flyway.It is the same strain of avian influenza that has been confirmed in backyard and wild birds in Washington, Oregon and Idaho as part of the ongoing incident in the Pacific flyway.

Samples from the turkey breeder replacement flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa confirmed the finding. APHIS is partnering closely with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises and the remaining birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the involved flock will not enter the food system.

CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks, and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with these viruses have been detected at this time. The Minnesota Department of Health is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure they are taking the proper precautions.As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kills bacteria and viruses.

Federal and State partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area, following existing avian influenza response plans. The United States has the strongest AI 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.

These virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

Missouri 11 March 2015: The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in two separate commercial turkey flocks in Missouri. The flocks are located in Jasper County and Moniteau County, within the Mississippi flyway where this strain of avian influenza has previously been identified. CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low.
Samples from the turkey flocks, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at the Missouri Department of Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa confirmed the findings. APHIS is working closely with the Missouri Department of Agriculture on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises and the remaining birds on the properties will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease.

UPDATE 19 Feb 2015: First published report on H5N1 available.

British Columbia 9 Feb 2015: H5N1 has also been detected in poultry in British Columbia. This strain also differs from the Asian strain. "Based on the limited partial sequence of the H5 and N1 gene segments obtained this far, it appears very likely that this is the same or a very similar virus to the ... H5N1 virus in Washington state, but more sequencing will be needed to make a final conclusion," the Canada Food Inspection Agency said in its

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 has been detected for the first time in a US bird, in Washington state, according to a report filed by John Clifford, DVM, deputy administrator with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The report, posted yesterday by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), details a novel H5N1 virus found in a wild green-winged teal in Whatcom County that resulted from reassortment between a Eurasian (EA)-type H5N8 virus and North American avian influenza strains.

It is critically important to note, per the U.S. Geological Survey, that this is a different strain from that found in Asia. Its not known to harm humans nor has it been found in domestic poultry. This Washington state strain incorporates genes from North American waterfowl-associated viruses. Unlike the Asian H5N1 strain that has been found in Asia, Europe, and Africa, this Washington state strain has only been found in wild waterfowl and has not been associated with human illness, nor has this new Washington state strain been found in domestic poultry.
The virus was detected in a hunter-killed bird as part of increased avian flu surveillance in wild birds, according to the report. Whole-genome sequencing placed it in EA H5 clade 2.3.4.4.
Its PB2, H5, NP, and MP components are more than 99% identical to the HPAI H5N8 strain found in a wild gyrfalcon in the same county in December. It also contains PB1 genes that are 98% identical to those in a HPAI H5N2 found in a northern pintail duck, also in Whatcom County in December, as well as PA, N1, and NS components from a North American low-pathogenic wild bird lineage.

This follows confirmation of the the presence of highly pathogenic (HPAI) H5 avian influenza in wild birds in Whatcom County, Washington. Two separate virus strains were identified: HPAI H5N2 in northern pintail ducks and HPAI H5N8 in captive Gyrfalcons that were fed hunter-killed wild birds. There is no immediate public health concern with either of these avian influenza viruses. Both H5N2 and H5N8 viruses have been found in other parts of the world and have not caused any human infection to date.

The finding in Whatcom County was quickly reported and identified due to increased surveillance for avian influenza in light of the HPAI H5N2 avian influenza affecting commercial poultry in British Columbia, Canada.

Washington State, USDA, and other Federal partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing of birds in the nearby area.

Ornithologists working in the Pacific Northwest and particularly those working on waterfowl, may want to review the Ornithological Council's fact sheet on zoonotic infectious disease.


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