Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Subtype H5N1 Detected in United States and Canada

Updated February 8, 2022

On January 14, 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the highly pathogenic Eurasian H5 avian influenza (HPAI) in a wild American wigeon in Colleton County, South Carolina. You can read the entire statement from USDA APHIS about the detection of HPAI in the United States here.

Eurasian H5 HPAI, also known as H5N1, has not been detected in a wild bird in the United States since 2016. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to the general public from HPAI H5 infections to be low. No human infections with Eurasian H5 viruses have occurred in the United States.

HPAI was also recently detected in Canada. On December 20, 2021, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency detected the presence of HPAI subtype H5N1 on a farm on the Avalon Peninsula in the province of Newfoundland. 

Authorities were notified after an unusually large mortality event among farm birds. 360 birds died as a result of the virus; the remaining 59 birds, which were also infected, were depopulated. H5N1 was identified in domestic chickens, ducks, and geese on the farm, none of which were destined for human consumption.

It is believed that the farm birds may have been exposed to the virus via wild ducks that frequent a pond on farm grounds, and Canadian officials are currently surveying wild bird populations for the presence of the virus. Environment Canada has confirmed the presence of H5N1 in other locations in Newfoundland, including Bowring Park, Quidi Vidi Lake, and Mundy Pond. As winter cold fronts push birds south, and when migrations begin later this year, facilities – especially those in the Eastern and Mississippi flyways – should remain vigilant and be prepared for a potential outbreak in their area.

Preparing for an outbreak of HPAI at your facility is key to minimizing potential damage and mortality, and you can start by reviewing ZAHP’s Avian Influenza Zoo Preparedness Exercises and Flu at the Zoo Exercises.


Read more:


Photo courtesy of Alan D. Wilson/Creative Commons.