Tuesday, August 29, 2006

No deadly avian flu in Alaskan birds

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture said none of the more than 13,000 wild birds tested for highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 carried the virus.

The national wild bird surveillance and early detection plan is part of President Bush’s National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. The President allocated $29 million in his fiscal year 2006 avian influenza supplemental funding package for implementation of the wild bird monitoring plan.

The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), USDA, the State of Alaska, and the University of Alaska have been involved with sampling wild birds in Alaska since April 2006. The sampling program includes a goal to sample and test 75,000 to 100,000 migratory birds across the United States this year.

So far DOI (including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey) has tested more than 11,000 samples and USDA has tested more than 2,000 samples—for a total of more than 13,000. Of those tested by DOI, approximately 113 have tested positive for some form of avian influenza. This is to be expected since there are 144 subtypes of "bird flu," most of which pose no threat to domestic poultry or humans and do not produce noticeable symptoms in wild birds. Of the 113 samples, all tested negative for the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus.
(Look at the size of that state!)

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