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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 5:46 pm 
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Media myths on Fujian spread are being to appear as "experts" claim that the Midwest turkey farm infections are not due to wild birds (after agencies "experts" failed to test wild birds in the Mississippi Flyway during hunting season).

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 5:47 pm 
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U.S. bird experts mystified by Midwest avian flu spread

Posted Mar. 13th, 2015 by Tom Polansek

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(Scott Bauer photo courtesy ARS/USDA)
Chicago | Reuters – A virulent strain of avian flu that has killed turkeys in the heart of the nation’s poultry region has been found through molecular testing to be nearly identical to viruses isolated in migratory ducks.

But some wildlife experts are skeptical of suggestions that wild birds are responsible for spreading the H5N2 flu strain that has infected poultry in Minnesota, Missouri and Arkansas.

A top investigator from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says testing performed by the government supports a conclusion that the virus is being carried by waterfowl along an established migratory route that stretches south from Ontario and Canada’s eastern Prairies through Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

The virus can be transmitted to poultry from ducks through droppings that land on farms or when birds interact, among other ways.

“That’s the way we’re sort of pointing right now: to ducks as the problem,” said Brian McCluskey, lead epidemiologist for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The agency has not, however, identified how the disease made its way from the ducks to domestic fowl.

Experts who doubt that wild birds are spreading the virus note that the disease has moved from Minnesota in the north, south to Arkansas and Missouri, the opposite direction birds migrate through the area in the spring.

“When you’re talking about where I would put my money, I would say that north to south movement in the beginning of March totally does not make sense,” said Hon Ip, a microbiologist for the National Wildlife Health Center.

Determining how avian flu is spreading is crucial to preventing future outbreaks, protecting poultry and limiting damage in the US$5.7 billion export market. Already, the outbreak has prompted top poultry importers, including Mexico and Canada, to widen trade restrictions.

Previous outbreaks on the U.S. West Coast were linked to wild fowl by the USDA. But the virus can be spread in other ways, too, including through contaminated trucks, humans or animal feed. People can carry infected material, such as feces or even feathers, to farms on their clothes, shoes or vehicles.

Once it arrives, avian flu can spread rapidly through a flock, killing birds in as little as 24 hours. The virus has not been identified in humans and is not expected to pose a public health risk, according to USDA.

The infection in a Minnesota turkey flock was the first along the migratory route known as the Mississippi flyway, which also includes Missouri and Arkansas — and continues southeast toward the major chicken producing states of Mississippi and Alabama.

After the Minnesota case was identified on March 5, USDA organized a call to advise state veterinarians along the route that the virus could be headed in their direction, said Richard Fordyce, director of Missouri’s Department of Agriculture.

“More toward biosecurity”

But wildlife experts question whether wild birds are moving the virus along the flyway.

“It is extraordinarily unlikely that avian influenza in the turkey flock in Minnesota has anything to do with wild birds,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Division of Fish and Wildlife. He noted that few migratory ducks have started arriving in Minnesota.

“I would think the investigation is going to look more toward the biosecurity issue with food or transport,” Cornicelli added. “The fact that there are no ducks here would indicate that it’s not ducks in Minnesota.”

One day after USDA confirmed avian flu in Minnesota, state wildlife employees took a low-level airplane flight to scout a 25-km radius around an infected turkey farm for wild birds that could have carried the virus.

They spotted just 18 swans and 100 ducks, and they appeared to be “city birds” that do not migrate, Cornicelli said. The state nevertheless tested feces from some of the ducks for avian flu, but the results were negative.

Arkansas officials doubt the role of migratory birds in their state’s outbreak, too, partly because the area with the infected farm does not attract many wild birds and waterfowl, said Karen Rowe, bird conservation program leader for the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.

Most birds in Arkansas are flying north at this time of year, Rowe added. She plans to travel to the farm next week to look for clues about how the virus could have spread.

“Was it carried in on clothing or boots? There’s just a lot of unanswered questions,” Rowe said.

Butterball LLC, which has contracts to buy turkeys from farms in Arkansas and Missouri that were infected, declined to speculate about how the virus was spread.

Cargill contracts for turkeys from an infected farm near Fortuna, Missouri, and said the origin of that infection is under investigation.

“We know that AI is spread by migratory wild waterfowl,” spokesman Michael Martin said, referring to the virus. “However, we are not taking anything for granted.”

– Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag markets for Reuters from Chicago.

Tagged avian flu, H5N2, migratory birds, Mississippi flyway

http://www.agcanada.com/daily/u-s-bird- ... flu-spread

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 12:37 pm 
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Spreading Bird Flu Stirring Panic Among Farmers
By Jaycee De Guzman / March 14, 2015 at 15:59

0US bird flu experts were left puzzled while trying to identify the roots of a new strain of avian flu that already spread over three American states.

Their initial theory was that H5N2 influenza strain spread through the country’s poultry region carried by wild birds. Avian flu is common in wild migratory flocks without actually harming them, but it becomes deadly once spread to commercial poultry, such as turkey.

Last month, farmers in Minnesota reported that in just a couple of days thousands of their birds died to the virus. Besides the country’s top turkey-producing state, later news reports showed the H5N2 strain began spreading, reaching two other poultry states, Arkansas and Missouri.

The most obvious link between these three states is the migratory route from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, so the first explanation health experts came with is that the virus was carried by migratory waterfowl or other wild birds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s report was however met with skepticism by many wildlife experts.

The reason they doubt wild ducks are being the problem is that during this time of year birds tend to migrate from south to north, which is the exact opposite of the direction the infection spread. Minnesota first reported the outbreak around March 4, while similar information from the southerner states came at least a week later.

Wildlife employees started collecting data from birds a few days after the initial reports, but they all showed up negative. Even if wild birds are really responsible for the outbreak, USDA officials have yet to determine how exactly the flu strain passed from them to poultry.

Determining the exact circumstances of the emerging epidemic is paramount not only for animal healthcare, but for the industry as well. US poultry exports reach $5.7 billion yearly, and this number may be affected if the crisis rages on. Canada and Mexico have already imposed some trade restrictions, as it isn’t unusual for a country to cease importing from a “tainted” market. It can also be used as a pretext for countries to stop the imports of cheaper US products in order to stimulate their own economies.

At the moment no case of human infection has been reported. Dr. Carol Cardona, bird flu specialist at the University of Minnesota, says the danger to humans is “very, very low”; simply by properly cooking poultry or eggs should prevent any human contamination. However, the official stance of the World Health Organization is that the virus can survive in fresh or frozen poultry products, thus making US chicken exports problematic.

Image Source: Inforum

http://www.capitalotc.com/spreading-bir ... ers/29765/

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 12:51 pm 
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Although some have suggested that wild birds are responsible for the outbreak of the H5N2 flu strain, which has also impacted Minnesota populations, wildlife experts are skeptical of that theory, according to a Reuters report.

An investigator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed the initial theory that wild animals are the problem, saying that testing indicates that the virus is carried by waterfowl that travel a migratory route that goes from Minnesota to the gulf of Mexico, and droppings from the ducks can land on farms where the birds live.

However, some experts have noted that the disease has moved from Minnesota south to Arkansas and Missouri, which would be the opposite direction that the birds would be migrating in the spring.

http://natmonitor.com/2015/03/14/sudden ... -industry/

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:20 am 
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USDA reports virulent strain of avian flu in Kansas poultry
March 15, 2015 12:00 AM

By Tom Polansek / Reuters
CHICAGO — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified the first infection of a virulent strain of avian flu in poultry in Kansas, confirming the virus has spread into a migratory bird route that runs through the center of the country.

The discovery of the H5N2 flu strain in a backyard chicken and duck flock in a county just outside Kansas City, Kan., is certain to lead to expanded restrictions on U.S. poultry exports from top trading partners like Mexico and Canada.

The infection, confirmed on Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was the first case in an established migratory bird route, known as the central flyway, that stretches roughly north-south from Montana to Texas.

Kansas officials quarantined the infected property in Leavenworth County, and birds there will be culled to prevent the spread of the disease. A quarantine zone will be established for miles around the site to limit the movement of poultry.

“We are dedicated to providing the necessary assistance and precautions to avoid any possible spreading of the disease," said Bill Brown, Kansas’ animal health commissioner,

The USDA will inform international trading partners and an international animal health organization of the infection. Major buyers of U.S. poultry have already restricted imports from other states that have recently been infected with the same flu strain.

Last week, the USDA identified the first case in Arkansas, in the heart of the U.S. poultry-producing region.

Molecular testing has shown the virus found in recent infections is nearly identical to viruses isolated in migratory ducks. But some wildlife experts are skeptical of suggestions that wild birds are responsible for spreading the flu in the Midwest.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people from highly pathogenic flu infections in wild birds and poultry to be low, according to the USDA statement.

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation ... 1503150176

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 5:00 am 
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niman wrote:
USDA reports virulent strain of avian flu in Kansas poultry
March 15, 2015 12:00 AM

By Tom Polansek / Reuters
CHICAGO — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified the first infection of a virulent strain of avian flu in poultry in Kansas, confirming the virus has spread into a migratory bird route that runs through the center of the country.

The discovery of the H5N2 flu strain in a backyard chicken and duck flock in a county just outside Kansas City, Kan., is certain to lead to expanded restrictions on U.S. poultry exports from top trading partners like Mexico and Canada.

The infection, confirmed on Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was the first case in an established migratory bird route, known as the central flyway, that stretches roughly north-south from Montana to Texas.

Kansas officials quarantined the infected property in Leavenworth County, and birds there will be culled to prevent the spread of the disease. A quarantine zone will be established for miles around the site to limit the movement of poultry.

“We are dedicated to providing the necessary assistance and precautions to avoid any possible spreading of the disease," said Bill Brown, Kansas’ animal health commissioner,

The USDA will inform international trading partners and an international animal health organization of the infection. Major buyers of U.S. poultry have already restricted imports from other states that have recently been infected with the same flu strain.

Last week, the USDA identified the first case in Arkansas, in the heart of the U.S. poultry-producing region.

Molecular testing has shown the virus found in recent infections is nearly identical to viruses isolated in migratory ducks. But some wildlife experts are skeptical of suggestions that wild birds are responsible for spreading the flu in the Midwest.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people from highly pathogenic flu infections in wild birds and poultry to be low, according to the USDA statement.

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation ... 1503150176

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/1 ... 70156.html

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2015 8:06 pm 
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Kansas is latest state to face H5N2
Filed Under: Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
Robert Roos | News Editor | CIDRAP News | Mar 16, 2015

A backyard flock of chickens and ducks in northeastern Kansas has been hit by highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza, making Kansas the fourth state in the central United States, after Minnesota, Missouri, and Arkansas, to confront the virus.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Mar 13 the outbreak in Leavenworth County, Kan., which is part of the Kansas City metropolitan area. The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) said today that the flock was destroyed on Mar 14 to prevent any further spread of the virus.

Increased deaths in the backyard flock led to testing of the birds, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said in a statement, which did not specify the size of the flock. Testing was done by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

The KDA said it has established a control zone around the outbreak site and is working to locate other backyard poultry flocks in the zone. The agency did not say whether the area contains any commercial poultry farms.

The Kansas outbreak is the fourth H5N2 incident reported in the central part of the country this month. The virus was reported on a Minnesota turkey farm on Mar 5, and outbreaks on two widely separated Missouri turkey farms were announced Mar 8 and 9. Then on Mar 11 came the news of an infected turkey farm in northwestern Arkansas.

These outbreaks were preceded by H5N2 outbreaks on several commercial poultry farms in southern British Columbia in November and December 2014. Subsequently the virus was found in some wild birds and backyard flocks in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. How it moved from those states to the central United States is a mystery.

The USDA described the Kansas event as the first H5N2 outbreak in the Central flyway for migratory birds, which essentially encompasses the Great Plains. The Minnesota, Missouri, and Arkansas are part of the Mississippi flyway.

Wild birds are suspected to have brought the virus to the central part of the United States, but some experts have questioned that view, saying migratory birds would be unlikely to carry the virus from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest or from south to north in late winter.

No H5N2 infections have been reported in humans, officials noted.

The USDA said it would inform the World Organization for Animal Health of the Kansas outbreak. Dozens of countries have banned poultry imports from the states hit by the recent outbreaks.

See also:

Mar 13 USDA statement

Mar 16 KDA statement

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspect ... -face-h5n2

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:56 pm 
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Role of wild birds in US H5N2 outbreaks questioned
Filed Under: Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
Robert Roos | News Editor | CIDRAP News | Mar 18, 2015

The notion that wild birds played a key role in bringing highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses from Asia to western North America and more recently to the Midwest has been implicit in government statements about recent outbreaks. But some wildlife disease experts are warning against jumping to easy conclusions.

The story goes back to last November and December, when an HPAI H5N2 virus struck several poultry farms in southern British Columbia. Those outbreaks triggered increased surveillance for avian flu in the United States, and a matching virus showed up in December in a wild northern pintail duck in northwestern Washington state. At the same time, a Eurasian strain of H5N8 virus was found in a captive gyrfalcon in the same area.

Subsequently the H5N2 virus surfaced in several backyard poultry flocks and wild birds in Oregon and Idaho as well as Washington. And this month it popped up on a western Minnesota turkey farm and shortly afterward on two Missouri turkey farms, an Arkansas turkey farm, and a backyard flock in Kansas. The H5N2 strain is described as a product of mixing (reassortment) between the Eurasian H5N8 virus and native North American avian flu viruses.

In a Mar 11 announcement about the Arkansas outbreak, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said, "These virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife."

Last week the USDA reported that the Minnesota, Missouri, and Arkansas H5N2 isolates looked more than 99% similar to the Washington pintail duck virus, based on partial genetic sequencing of the virus's hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins. The apparent implication was that migratory birds may have brought the virus to those states.

Wild bird chase?
But not so fast, say experts like David Stallknecht, PhD, of the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine, and Michele Carstensen, PhD, wildlife health program supervisor in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). They point out, among other things, that migratory birds don't migrate from west to east or from north to south in late winter.

"This could all have been from wild birds—nobody can say it's impossible," said Stallknecht. "But we do need some proof. . . . People seem to be willing to accept things without a whole lot of proof."

He said it is unknown how the H5N8 strain that gave rise to H5N2 reached North America. Noting that the H5N2 outbreaks in British Columbia marked the "index case" or first appearance of the virus, he said, "How much proof do we have of wild bird involvement with that virus in North America? None."

Referring to the mixing of H5N8 with North American viruses, he said, "Why do we make the jump to wild ducks to explain this? Reassortment could also occur in a backyard flock of domestic ducks after a more direct introduction [of H5N8] via people." He suggested that travelers could possibly have brought the virus to Canada from Asia.

He cautioned that this is "pure speculation," but added that the idea that wild birds introduced the parental H5N8 virus to North America is also speculative. "It is based on circumstantial evidence that is rapidly becoming accepted dogma."

Carstensen said the notion that wild birds could have brought the H5N2 virus from Minnesota to Missouri is "beyond me. . . . They [migratory birds] go from south to north this time of year." Arkansas and Kansas, on the other hand, are close enough to migratory-bird wintering grounds to make a connection with wild birds more plausible, she added.

There could be "totally different causes" for the outbreaks in Minnesota and the more southerly states, Carstensen suggested.

Two positive tests in Minnesota
She and her colleagues have been testing fecal samples from wild birds found near the site of the outbreak in western Minnesota. A total of 148 samples, in three batches, have been tested for the presence of any avian flu virus. Only 2, both from mallards, tested positive, but the viral subtypes were not determined, she reported today. The samples have been sent to a USDA lab for the subtype determination.

If the viruses turn out to be H5 or H7 strains, their pathogenicity will be determined, which would take several weeks, Carstensen said. She noted that a number of H5 and H7 viruses were found in Minnesota wild birds in recent years, but they were all of low pathogenicity.

Even if wild birds did bring the H5N2 virus to Minnesota, she said, "It still has to get from the birds to the farm. The birds don't go there; it would have to be people or vehicles. The farm doesn't have any reports of waterfowl there at all."

Stallknecht said that whether the source of the virus was wild birds or human activity makes no difference in how to respond to and control the virus, but it does make a difference in other ways.

"Biosecurity is everything now, regardless of the source," he said via e-mail. "With regard to future risks for introductions of exotic viruses (flu or otherwise), however, it might be nice to know what really happened here."

See also:

Mar 11 CIDRAP News story on Arkansas outbreak

Mar 6 USDA report to World Organization for Animal Health on Minnesota H5N2 outbreak

Mar 10 CIDRAP News story on second Missouri outbreak

USDA list of recent HPAI detections in wild birds

USDA avian flu update page with summary of recent findings

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspect ... questioned

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:33 pm 
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Tonight at 10 PM EDT

Dr. Henry L. Niman, PhD
Sidespread Flu Season

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:37 pm 
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niman wrote:
Tonight at 10 PM EDT

Dr. Henry L. Niman, PhD
Sidespread Flu Season

http://www.renseradio.com/listenlive.htm

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