DNR tests for virus in Minnesota.

The DNR is among five state and federal agencies responding to the state’s outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which began March 2015, …

A lot is not known about the origin of this virus in Minnesota. DNR’s goal is to determine if wild birds are harboring the HPAI virus and learn as much as possible about it, thus providing any critical information that might aid in stopping the outbreak or preventing further spread.

Initially, DNR implemented a three-pronged approach to HPAI surveillance:
Collect waterfowl fecal samples throughout Minnesota;
Ask successful turkey hunters from Kandiyohi, Pope, Meeker, Swift and Stearns counties to submit their harvested bird for testing;
Collect dead birds of various species reported by the public.
DNR’s goal was to collect 3,000 waterfowl fecal samples, which was completed April 30. Staff collected half the samples within Board of Animal Health identified surveillance areas and half in areas not currently affected by HPAI. Staff located areas used by waterfowl or enticed waterfowl to bait sites and collected samples and location data. DNR staff did not enter infected farm properties and did not capture live waterfowl because landscape conditions changed daily. At the time of the outbreak, fecal collection was the most efficient and feasible surveillance method. The agency collected hunter-harvested turkeys through May 28, the end of the spring season. Staff will continue to collect other dead birds reported by the public during the emergency.
While this virus is new, DNR conducted extensive HPAI surveillance from 2006-2010, when more than 12,000 birds were tested and no HPAI virus was detected, …

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CIDRAP — Diverse avian flu strains hit UK, Taiwan, South Africa

Robert Roos | News Editor | CIDRAP News | Jul 13, 2015

Several varieties of avian influenza viruses have recently struck farms in the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and South Africa, affecting poultry species ranging from chickens to ostriches, according to reports today.

In addition, Minnesota officials said recently that a chickadee tested positive for an avian flu virus, but they couldn’t determine if it was the highly pathogenic H5N2 virus that hit 108 turkey and chicken farms in the state this past spring.

H7N7 reported in England
In the United Kingdom, a highly pathogenic H7N7 virus struck a farm in the northwestern English county of Lancashire, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The agency announced the outbreak Jul 10 and confirmed today that the virus is H7N7. The statement didn’t identify the type of poultry involved, but a Daily Mail story today said 170,000 chickens and turkeys were being euthanized at a farm near the village of Goosnargh.

DEFRA imposed a 3-kilometer protection zone and a 10-kilometer surveillance zone around the outbreak. Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said humane culling of the birds is progressing. Meanwhile, Public Health England said the H7N7 strain poses very little risk to humans.

The last previous H7N7 outbreak reported in the UK involved a low-pathogenic strain that surfaced in Hampshire, on England’s southern coast, in February, according to previous CIDRAP News reports.

Taiwan battles H5N2 again
Taiwan has had three more in a long series of highly pathogenic H5N2 outbreaks that began in January, authorities told the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in a report today.

The outbreaks involve a chicken farm in Changhua county and a turkey farm in Yunlin county, both in the west-central part of the island, and a goose farm in the southwestern city of Kaohsiung, the report said.

The virus killed 5,527 of 25,640 birds on the three farms, and the rest have already been culled to prevent any further spread, the report said. The farms have been cleaned and disinfected, and other farms within 3 kilometers will be under special surveillance for 3 months.

Ostrich farms hit in South Africa
In another report to the OIE, South African officials said a low-pathogenic H5N2 virus has surfaced on four ostrich farms, two each in Western Cape Province and Eastern Cape Province.

Officials said 868 of 4,557 ostriches on the farms were sick, but there were only 10 deaths, all on one farm in Eastern Cape province. The farms were quarantined, but none of the birds were euthanized, according to the report.

The latest H5N2 outbreaks are listed as part of a series that dates back to August 2014.

Infected chickadee
In Minnesota, an H5 virus was identified in a chickadee that was turned in to a wildlife rehabilitation center Jun 10, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said in a Jul 10 press release. It represents the second detection of an H5 virus in a Minnesota wild bird this year. The bird was found in Ramsey County, which includes St. Paul.

Lou Cornicelli, PhD, DNR wildlife research manager, said in the release that the finding is the first detection of avian flu in a Minnesota songbird. “This is further evidence that while waterfowl species can serve as a reservoir for avian influenza, other species are susceptible to the disease.”

He said the DNR doesn’t know where or how the chickadee was infected, “but these results highlight the complexity of how this virus is spread.” He added that the laboratory that tested the bird was unable to determine the precise virus strain.

In April the DNR reported finding the highly pathogenic H5N2 virus in a Cooper’s hawk in Yellow Medicine County, the first detection of the virus in a wild bird in Minnesota. The virus was not found in any of more than 600 wild geese tested by the DNR this year.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said the agency is seeking more information about the chickadee and plans to expand testing of ducks and geese, including hunter-killed birds, this summer and fall.

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