All posts by Anthony Olszewski

Anthony Olszewski has written on a wide variety of topics: cage birds, tropical fish, popular culture, the poetry of Amiri Baraka and a chapter on genetics for a veterinary text book, as a small sample. He worked as an editor at a magazine produced by TFH, the world's largest publisher of pet books. Anthony Olszewski is the author of a booklet on Hudson County history, Hudson County Facts, and a book of short stories, Second Thief, Best Thief, that are sold on Amazon. Anthony Olszewski established in 1996. A pioneer on the Web, the Site continues to provide unique information on a range of companion animals, focusing on birds and fish. As a community service, he operates Jersey City Free Books. Anthony Olszewski was born in Jersey City, NJ (Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital, 1956) and is a member of Mensa.

CDC Podcast — Novel Eurasian Highly Pathogenic Influenza A H5 Viruses in Wild Birds, Washington, USA, 2014

Sarah Gregory reads an abridged version of the article, Novel Eurasian Highly Pathogenic Influenza A H5 Viruses in Wild Birds, Washington, USA, 2014. Created: 3/24/2015 by National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID). Date Released: 4/13/2015. Series Name: Emerging Infectious Diseases.

APHIS – Epidemiologic and Other Analyses of HPAI-Affected Poultry Flocks: June 15, 2015 Report

Epidemiologic and Other Analyses of HPAI-Affected Poultry Flocks:
June 15, 2015 Report

For the past several months, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) hasconducted epidemiological investigations and other studies with the goal of identifying transmissionpathways of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). This report includes the results to date ofinvestigations spanning more than 80 commercial poultry facilities, as well as other in-depth studiesand analyses performed with the assistance of academic, Federal, State, and industry partners.

APHIS will update this report regularly as more analyses are completed.

APHIS concludes that at present, there is not substantial or significant enough evidence to point to aspecific pathway or pathways for the current spread of the virus. We have collected data on the
characteristics and biosecurity measures of infected farms and studied wind and airborne viruses aspossible causes of viral spread, and conducted a genetic analysis of the viruses detected in the
United States.

APHIS scientists believe wild birds were responsible for introducing HPAI into commercial poultry. However, given the number and proximity of farms affected by HPAI, it appears the virus is spreading in other ways as well. For instance, one analysis provides evidence that a certain cluster of farms was affected by identical viruses, pointing to possible transmission among those farms. In
addition, genetic analyses of the HPAI viruses suggest that independent introductions as well astransmission between farms are occurring in several States concurrently.

Although APHIS cannot at present point to a single statistically significant pathway for the current spread of HPAI, a likely cause of some virus transmission is insufficient application of recommended
biosecurity practices. For example, APHIS has observed sharing of equipment between an infected and noninfected farm, employees moving between infected and noninfected farms, lack of cleaning
and disinfection of vehicles moving between farms, and reports of rodents or small wild birds inside poultry houses. We are compiling these observations and will present our findings in a subsequent
update of this report. Until then, USDA is collaborating with affected industries and States to implement more stringent biosecurity procedures while continuing to work on identifying and
mitigating other possible disease pathways in poultry farms nationwide.

Environmental factors may also play a part in transmitting HPAI. APHIS found that genetic material from the HPAI virus could be detected in air samples taken inside and outside infected poultry
houses, supporting the idea that the virus can be transmitted through air. Further reinforcing this concept is preliminary analysis of wind data that shows a relationship between sustained high winds
(25 mph or greater for 2 days or longer) and an increase in the number of infected farms 5 to 7 days later.

APHIS will continue to investigate how the HPAI virus is introduced and spread and will provide updated results regularly. Comprehensive and stringent biosecurity practices will remain crucial to
reducing the risk of HPAI infection.

Click HERE to read the complete APHIS Report:

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, …

Click HERE for the complete Minnesota DNR post.

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.

Click HERE for the complete CIDRAP post.

CIDRAP — Egg farm hit in Nebraska’s first H5N2 event

Robert Roos | News Editor | CIDRAP News | May 12, 2015

Nebraska today joined the list of Midwestern states battling the H5N2 avian flu virus, with an outbreak on a large layer chicken farm, while neighboring Iowa reported four more avian flu outbreaks on chicken and turkey farms.

Nebraska incursion
The virus has struck a farm housing 1.7 million layer chickens in Dixon County in northeastern Nebraska, northwest of Sioux City, Iowa, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced today. The area is not far from several northwestern Iowa counties that have been battling H5N2.

APHIS said increased deaths in the chicken flock prompted initial testing by the South Dakota State University Animal Disease Research & Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmatory testing by the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. As in other outbreaks, officials quarantined the farm and made plans to destroy the surviving chickens as a precaution.

At the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA), Director Greg Ibach said in a statement, “Unfortunately, Nebraska has joined a long list of states currently dealing with highly pathogenic avian influenza. We are working closely with our counterparts at USDA APHIS, as well as all of our Nebraska state agency partners to ensure we are following proper protocols to address this situation. The goal is to quarantine the flock and attempt to control and contain the virus as quickly as possible.”
. . .
Click HERE for the complete article.

USDA — Transcript: USDA and CDC Update to Media on Highly Pathogenic H5N2 Avian Influenza Outbreaks

Moderator: Rodney Bain

April 22, 2015

11:00 am EDT

Coordinator: Good day and welcome to today’s live broadcast from the USDA Radio Studios in Washington D.C. featuring USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. John Clifford, as well as Dr. Alicia Fry of the Centers for Disease Control, and Dr. David Swayne of the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory also with USDA.

Reporters and members of the media wishing to ask a question of our guests after the opening remarks, you can do so, please press star 1 on your telephone touchtone pad. It’s now my pleasure to introduce USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. John Clifford.

Dr. John Clifford: Thank you very much. And thanks everyone for being on the call today. As you all know we’ve been dealing with the Avian Influenza, Highly Pathogenic AI. And we refer to it as High Path AI because frankly it kills turkeys and chickens.

So one of the things we’d like to tell you all today is that we’ve had very good success in being able to address these things once we’ve been able to find and locate these outbreak situations. So that we’ve been able to contain a lateral spread from these types of locations as well.

One of the challenging things that we have is though because of the contamination – environmental contamination of this virus from wild water fowl it presents a lot of unique challenges to us with regard to this. But the U.S. has one of the best in the world surveillance systems for High Path AI and for Low Path AI for that matter. And as a result we’ve been able to get very good cooperation from the states and the industry to be able to find these locations very quickly and be able to respond.

And I would definitely as a part of this wanted to thank all the support that we’ve gotten from our state animal health officials, as well as from the poultry industry and producers themselves. I know this can be very devastating to them but they’ve been very cooperative and it’s been a good relationship together.

And I also wanted to thank the support we’ve gotten from our guests here today as well; from Dr. Alicia Fry and the work of CDC with this, as well as Dr. David Swayne who is the Director of the USDA’s Southeastern Poultry Lab.

So with that I’d like to next turn it over to Dr. Alicia Fry to make some opening comments.

Dr. Alicia Fry: Good morning. Thank you for having me on today to discuss the human health implications of current domestic outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic H5 viruses in U.S. birds and poultry.

First let me start by saying that the Avian H5 viruses that have been found in U.S. wild birds and commercial poultry are different from the ones that we’ve been following around the world for several years now. These specific viruses have not caused infections in people anywhere in the world. CDC considers that the risk to the general public from these outbreaks to be low at this time.

That said, human infections with similar avian influenza viruses have occurred and it is possible that we may see human infections with the viruses associated with recent U.S. bird flu outbreaks. Most human infections with avian influenza viruses have occurred in people with direct or close and prolonged contact with infected birds.

While we are cautiously optimistic that there will not be human cases, we must be prepared for that possibility and we are taking routine preparedness steps, including studying these viruses further and creating candidate vaccine viruses which could be used to make a vaccine for people if one were needed. Again, these are routine public health preparedness measures.

So far genetic analysis has not shown any of the markers that are known to be associated with increased severity of illness in people or an increased ability to be spread to people or spread among people — and that’s good news. But preparedness and protecting public health is our continued goal.

CDC is working closely with state and local health departments and our colleagues at USDA to minimize public health risk from these bird flu outbreaks. People in contact with known infected or possibly infected birds should take precautions to protect against infection. USDA has excellent public education resources on their Web site for poultry workers, hunters and bird enthusiasts.

For the general public; avoid wild birds and observe them only from a distance, avoid contact with domestic birds or poultry that appear ill or have died, and avoid contact with surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from wild or domestic birds. CDC has issued public health guidance for High Path AI H5 testing and preventative medication of people exposed to these viruses.

People who have had contact with infected birds should monitor their own health for possible symptoms, for example flu-like symptoms or conjunctivitis. People who have had contact with infected birds may also be given influenza antiviral drugs preventatively.

CDC has put up a Web site with information on Avian Influenza and with links to all our domestic H5 guidance documents. We are monitoring the situation closely. This is an evolving public health situation and information may change as time goes on and we will provide updated information as it becomes available.

The address for the CDC Web site is And questions from the public can be directed to 800-CDC-INFO or 800-232-4636. Thank you.

Dr. John Clifford: Thank you Dr. Fry. And now I’d like to turn it to Dr. David Swayne to make some opening comments. David?

Dr. David Swayne: Thank you Dr. Clifford. I represent the Southeast Poultry Research Lab which is USDA’s agricultural research service in-house lab that conducts research on Avian Influenza. And we provide this research support not only to USDA APHIS, the regulatory agency for Disease Control, but also we provide research data to the states that may be affected, as well as the U.S. poultry industries.

Currently our research has been focused on developing specific molecular tests to detect this new strain of H5 High Path Avian Influenza. And we have made our test development and validation, have transferred that to our national Vet Services laboratories and on to the State Laboratory Diagnostic Network System. Now we’ve also developed a molecular test to detect the innate type of the virus, and that also has been transferred.

We have several ongoing studies that examine the different outbreak viruses to determine how they are transmitted from bird to bird, as well as which species of poultry, or potentially wild birds, can be affected by these viruses and what the potential outcomes are.

We also have, as part of our research portfolio, vaccine development which is a routine process for us. Now this type of research we do with all High Path AI viruses from around the world, which is part of our mandate, not only as a USDA lab, but also as a world organization for animal health collaborating center on research for emerging avian diseases.

Now I’ll pass it back to you Dr. Clifford.

Dr. John Clifford: Thank you Dr. Swayne.

Coordinator: And thank you. And we are open for questions, so reporters and members of the media this reminder, if you do have a question for any of our guests, Dr. John Clifford, USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Alicia Fry from the Centers for Disease Control, or Dr. David Swayne of USDA’s Southeast Poultry Research Lab, then press star 1 on your telephone touchtone pad.

And we will go to the phone lines. Our first call today belongs to Blake McCoy of KARE. Blake, good day.

Blake McCoy: Hi. I understand the USDA is working on a potential vaccine for this current strain of the virus. Where does that stand?

Dr. John Clifford: I think, Dr. Swayne do you want to respond to that please?

Dr. David Swayne: Yes. I mean our laboratory, which does the original vaccine development work, we are working on a potential vaccine strain that can be used as an inactivated vaccine. And we’re making progress on that. It’s a multi-step process that involves completion of one step, evaluating the information, then going back to additional steps.

So at this point we have a potential seed strain. But once we complete our work, which will include testing in chickens and turkeys, the decision to use that vaccine will only be made if it’s necessary in the regulatory process of the eradication.

So our work is only on the front end just to say, “Do we have available tools like vaccines to be used,” but the process of using vaccines will only be decided by the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service in consultation with the state labs.

Coordinator: We now go back to the phone lines. Our next call belongs to P.J. Huffstutter of Reuters News. P.J., good morning.

P.J. Huffstutter: Hi, good morning. This message is actually for Dr. Fry. I just had a quick question with regards to the scale of the outbreak. Is the – given that the outbreak has definitely been spreading at this point, is there any indication that we may be more likely to see the potential for a human infection just because there’s been the potential for more people exposed to the virus or no?

Dr. Alicia Fry: Well right now from everything we know it seems like the risk for human infection is very low. But you’re right, we’re really at the beginning of this and so we’re monitoring very closely. And we’re cautiously optimistic that we will not see any human cases, but there certainly is a possibility that we may.

Coordinator: USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer is with us here in the USDA Radio Studios, joining us on the phone lines Dr. Alicia Fry of the Centers of Disease Control and Dr. David Swayne of the Southeast Poultry Research Lab, and of course you in the listening audience. And reporters and members of the media, if you have a question for any of our guests please press star 1 on your telephone touchtone pad.

We go back to the phone lines. Our next call belongs to Steve Karnowski of the Associated Press. Steve, good morning.

Steve Karnowski: Good morning. Yes, this is for Dr. Fry. You had talked a little bit, and did I understand you correctly that as a precaution you have begun some preliminary work in case it becomes necessary to develop a human vaccine for this. Could you elaborate on that?

Dr. Alicia Fry: Well this is something that we do with any new influenza virus; we actually prepare seed vaccine viruses. We look for candidate vaccine viruses. We haven’t made any – we haven’t decided if we need to move to the next step. But for every new virus we actually pull it into CDC and we start to create candidate vaccine viruses.

We haven’t gotten further than that at this point because we don’t have a need to go further than that. But this is what we do. We have a large library of candidate vaccine viruses for different new avian influenza viruses that are detected around the world. And this is one of the reasons why we do surveillance so that we have these candidate viruses available.

Coordinator: Our next question belongs to (Mark Steele) of Minnesota Public Radio News. (Mark), good morning.

(Mark Steele): Good morning. I’m just wondering, on the USDA Web site the last test that showed the virus in a wild bird was over a month ago and I’m just wondering what you make of that? Is that raising concern or possibly any alternate theories on how the disease is being spread?

Dr. John Clifford: This is Dr. Clifford. Basically it doesn’t really concern us from the standpoint of just finding the virus in a wild bird a month ago. We know that the virus exists in the wild bird population, the wild water fowl. So I think you still have to be very diligent in your biosecurity and making sure that you have the possibility of having virus contamination within the environment. And you take all those precautions based on that.

As far as the way the virus is getting into the facilities itself, we’re looking at a multitude of possibilities with regard to that. We know that we’ve had very good biosecurity in the past to prevent introductions of High Path AI into our poultry operations but we’re reviewing all of those. And as we review them, I know that the industry, if we find gaps, the industry is taking those very, very seriously and implementing new ways to address those gaps as soon as possible.
. . .
Click HERE for the complete article.

JAVMAnews — Avian influenza infections could continue in fall, next spring

Posted May 13, 2015

The highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza viruses now in U.S. poultry flocks could have continued effects during the next year of wild bird migrations.

Nearly 16 million birds were expected to be killed or depopulated so far because of flock infections with an H5N2 influenza virus strain that had spread to at least 13 states as of April 29. Another highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, an H5N8 strain, had spread to a few Western U.S. commercial flocks containing about 250,000 birds.

Dr. John Clifford, chief veterinary officer for the Department of Agriculture, said the H5 avian influenza viruses have become adapted to wild waterfowl and may cause outbreaks in fall 2015 and spring 2016. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is studying pathways the viruses can use to enter poultry barns and is working with industry to mitigate risk over the summer.

The avian influenza viruses affected a greater number of chickens than turkeys, although far more turkey farms than chicken farms had infections.
. . .
Click HERE for the complete article.

CIDRAP — Signs of airborne H5N2 found; Iowa reports more outbreaks

Robert Roos | News Editor | CIDRAP News | May 08, 201
. . .
Air sampling findings
Montse Torremorell, DVM, PhD, of the University of Minnesota said she and three colleagues did a pilot air sampling study at three Minnesota farms with infected poultry.

“Our results indicated that influenza genetic material can be detected in air samples collected inside and immediately outside of infected poultry facilities. We still don’t know whether virus was viable or not, and those analyses are in progress,” said Torremorell, who holds the Allen D. Leman Chair in swine health and productivity.

“So far we have shown that HPAI [highly pathogenic avian influenza] can be aerosolized from infected facilities,” she added. “However, the implications of these findings in terms of understanding the transmission of HPAI between flocks needs further investigation.” The study focused on a total of four poultry barns on the three farms.

Torremorell said the study was commissioned by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The agency’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, are testing the samples to see if they contain any viable virus particles.

Other participants in the study are Peter Davies, BVSc, PhD, Peter Raynor, PhD, and Carmen Alonso, DVM, all with the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, Torremorell said.
. . .
Another pause in Minnesota
In other developments, Minnesota officials reported no new H5N2 outbreaks today, suggesting that the virus’s spread may be slowing. From Apr 15 through May 5 the state reported new H5N2 findings every day. That streak finally ended 2 days ago (May 6), but yesterday two outbreaks were reported.

State officials also said today that they have finished testing all 3,138 fecal samples collected this spring from wild waterfowl, with no H5N2 findings. About half of the samples came from near the infected farms, and the rest were control samples from wildlife areas around the state, according to today’s update from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).
. . .
Click HERE for the complete article.

International Business Times — Bird Flu Outbreak 2015: Deadly Virus’ Spread Sparks Questions On Biosecurity, Strict Sanitation Protocols At Poultry Farms

By Elizabeth Whitman on May 07 2015 1:06 PM EDT

Every spring, a wide swath of sky over the Midwest known as the Mississippi flyway becomes a highway for millions of birds heading north after spending winter months in the warmth of Central and South America. But this year, this mass migration over central states in the U.S., including Iowa and Minnesota, has caused significant problems for bird farmers in its path. Some of the migrating ducks and geese are carrying a deadly flu and their droppings are somehow sickening millions of turkeys and chickens being raised in commercial birdhouses for food.

So far, roughly 25 million turkeys and chickens have died or been euthanized in the bird flu outbreak, the largest in U.S. history. The crisis has prompted poultry farmers in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and surrounding states to embrace heightened biosecurity — a set of tight sanitation measures that range from changing clothing before entering birdhouses to cleaning vehicles driven onto farms — to prevent droppings from wild birds, or any other germs, from being tracked into poultry houses. Yet birds have continued to fall sick, with flocks totaling more than 2 million turkeys and chickens reported infected Monday and five more farms suspected of having the virus on Wednesday.

That has left government officials, farmers and researchers alike grasping for answers as to how the flu has continued to infiltrate birdhouses. The deadly outbreak does not affect humans or food produced by the farms, but could eventually cause food prices to jump.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which coordinates with states in responding to the outbreak and also conducts research on bird flu, has no clear answers so far as to why the virus is spreading. “We cannot say definitely how specific poultry operations are becoming infected at this point,” Ed Curlett, a spokesman for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at the Department of Agriculture, said in an email. “We are examining affected poultry operations in order to learn more about how they are becoming infected and have yet to come to conclusions.” He added, “Sound biosecurity practices are essential to keep operations from becoming infected.”
. . .
Click HERE for the complete article.