North American birds contract and spread highly contagious avian flu

North American birds contract and spread highly contagious avian flu | Courtesy of
Recent analysis shows North America birds have contracted and spread highly contagious strains of avian influenza (HPAI) H5 viruses that originated in Eurasia and continue to spread around the world.

The genetic analysis, published by the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), shows that the mixed-origin HPAI H5N8 was originally found in a green-winged teal in Washington state at the end of 2014.

In March, scientists found HPAI H5N2 in commercial turkey flocks in Missouri, Minnesota and Arkansas. The same virus was found in a mixed poultry flock in Kansas and in a single wild bird in Wyoming State.

This virus is not the same as the H5N1 HPAI virus that emerged in 1996 and is a less contagious avian influenza commonly found in wild birds. As of today, no human infections of H5N8 have been confirmed within North America, though human infections of H5N8 have been reported in other countries.

“This report describes the first detection of HPAI H5N1 virus in North America, and this virus has since been detected in a backyard flock in British Columbia, Canada,” Hon Ip, a USGS National Wildlife Health Center scientist, said.

USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service scientist and co-author of the analysis Mia Kim Torchetti said the findings were expected and might continue as the Eurasian lineage H5 circulates in the United States.

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U.S. Geological Survey 12201 Sunrise Valley Dr Reston, VA 20192

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