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National Wildlife Health Center Wildlife Health Bulletin on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

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This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 10 ornithological societies. Join or renew your membership in your ornithological society if you value the services these societies provide to you, including OrnithologyExchange and the Ornithological Council.

The National Wildlife Health Center has issued a Wildlife Health Bulletin entitled “Winter 2020 Update on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Viruses Circulating Globally in Wild Birds.” 

According to the report, this year multiple strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (H5 [untyped], H5N1, H5N2, H5N5, H5N6, H5N8, H7N3 and H7N7) have been detected in wild birds and poultry around the world. Reporting to the World Organisation for Animal Health has indicated “an apparent increase in virus activity was noted during the fall migration period which warrants increased vigilance by North American wildlife health professionals.” HPAI wasdetected during 2020 in Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vietnam. The Bulletin has a complete list of the species involved.

The National Wildlife Health Center is recommending increased vigilance for morbidity or mortality events in wild birds, since monitoring and investigating wild bird mortality events increases the chance of early detection of HPAI and enables a more effective response to potential outbreaks. The current global level of HPAI virus detections in wild birds is similar to the winter of 2014/2015, when HPAI was detected in wild birds across North America and also heavily impacted domestic fowl. 

See the Bulletin for guidelines that biologists and hunters should follow in the field, as well as instructions on requesting diagnostic services or reporting wildlife mortality. Institutions and organizations that investigate morbidity and mortality events of wildlife disease events are encouraged to report these events to WHISPers, the Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership - event reporting system. 

Read the Ornithological Council’s Fact Sheet on West Nile Virus, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1, and other zoonotic diseases

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The Ornithological Council is a consortium of 10 scientific societies of ornithologists; these societies span the Western Hemisphere and the research conducted by their members spans the globe. Their cumulative expertise comprises the knowledge that is fundamental and essential to science-based bird conservation and management. The Ornithological Council is financially supported by our 10 member societies and the individual ornithologists who value our work. If the OC’s resources are valuable to you, please consider joining one of our member societies or donating directly at Birdnet.org. Thank you for your support!


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