ZAHP has been closely monitoring the increased outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Influenza (HPAI) across Europe and Asia. USDA Wildlife Services passed along the below information below about surveillance activities, which hopefully will give us an early warning to the presence of this pathogen in the United States before it infects domestic poultry, or our valuable collections.
The resources that are provided below are primarily aimed at poultry, but the concepts and practices translate to many of our avian business models. Secure Zoo Strategy also contains biosecurity planning tools and templates aimed at preventing Foreign Animal Disease outbreaks in our industry.
Update from APHIS Wildlife Services:
As you may know, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) works with federal and state partners to conduct avian influenza surveillance testing on wild birds. Because wild birds can carry avian influenza and not appear sick, these tests tell us whether any highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses are found in the wild bird population.
During FY2020, APHIS conducted avian influenza surveillance in wild birds in 13 Atlantic Flyway states, as well as Alaska, North Dakota and Idaho. APHIS wildlife biologists collected 3,670 samples and no HPAI was found.
Starting October 1, 2020, APHIS initiated a more comprehensive surveillance effort in the Atlantic Flyway due to increased concern surrounding the highly pathogenic H5N8 subtype circulating in Europe. We plan to collect 6,135 samples in 16 Atlantic Flyway states. As of December 22, APHIS wildlife biologists in 16 states have collected 1,850 samples. No highly pathogenic forms of avian influenza have been found to date.
Our surveillance methods are sensitive and can detect the presence of HPAI (H5 and H7 subtypes) at infection rates as low as 1% within a watershed.
Biosecurity is the key to keeping our nation’s poultry healthy. APHIS encourages all poultry owners, including backyard growers, to implement diligent biosecurity practices. Our Defend the Flock program offers checklists and other tools, videos, webinars and educational resources to help keep flocks safe and healthy. Please visit the Defend the Flock Resource Center for more information. Other online resources include methods for improving biosecurity at farms and poultry facilities through wildlife management practices. Please visit APHIS’ Avian Influenza and Wild Birds webpage.
Thank you to Tom Gidlewski, VMD, MS for providing this update. Dr. Gidlewski is the Program Manager for APHIS Wildlife Services National Wildlife Disease Program.