Not surprisingly, avian influenza continues to spread throughout the United States and other countries, as previously reported.
Only now, the stakes are much higher, since several countries−China, the European Union, South Korea, and South Africa−have now banned imports of U.S. poultry, eggs and other poultry products even though no U.S. commercial poultry farms have been infected with the virus.
Unfortunately such bans are not uncommon. The problem is, once a ban has been implemented it can take years to have it lifted.
Currently in the U.S. only a few backyard flocks and wild birds have tested positive for the virus.
USDA confirmed the identification of the following strains of avian influenza virus by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories:
- HPAI H5N2 in northern pintail ducks in Whatcom County, Washington (December 16)
- HPAI H5N8 in captive gyrfalcons in Whatcom County, Washington (December 16)
- HPAI H5N8 in a backyard poultry flock in Winston, Oregon (December 19)
- HPAI H5N8 in a hunter-harvested wild duck in Butte County, California (December 31)
- HPAI H5N2 in a backyard turkey flock in Benton County, Washington (January 3)
USDA also noted, on its website, that additional positive wild birds and backyard flocks are likely to be identified in areas where “the H5N2 and H5N8 avian influenza strains are currently circulating in migratory birds in the Pacific flyway.”
The spread from migratory birds to commercial breeders should be blocked by the stringent biosecurity protocols these facilities use to protect their birds from disease.
But in other countries, commercial flocks have been affected. The World Health Organization for Animal Health’s website identifies countries with infected flocks. On January 13, 2015 the following affected countries were identified:
|China (People’s Rep. of)||H5N1||2015||09/01/15|
|United States of America||H5N8||2015||07/01/15|
|United States of America||H5N2||2015||07/01/15|
As long as the weather conditions favor virus survival and spread, additional birds will undoubtedly test positive for the virus, resulting in the unfortunate continuation or expansion of embargoes of U.S. poultry and poultry products to other countries.