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Take Home Messages from the Latest USDA AI Webinar


Following the confirmation of three isolates of H5N1 from free-living waterfowl the USDA-APHIS presented a webinar for stakeholders on Tuesday, January 18th.  The recoveries to date are:

  • H5N1 confirmed January 14th from an American wigeon  (Marecaa americana) in Colleton County, SC.
  • H5N1 confirmed from a blue-winged teal (Anas discors) on January 18th from Colleton County, SC.
  • H5N1 confirmed from a northern shoveler (Spatula clypeata) on January 18th from Hyde County, NC.


All three isolates were obtained from hunter-killed birds as part of the USDA-APHIS wild bird surveillance program.  From mid-June 2021 to mid-March 2022, the survey will involve twenty-five states with a projected 16,000 samples.  Nine thousand of these samples will be from the Atlantic Flyway extending from Maine to Florida.


Dr. Michael Neault of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, Dr. Michael Martin of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs and Dr. Rose Marie Sifford of the USDA all emphasized the need for high levels of biosecurity on commercial farms.


It is noted that in the event of a diagnosis of avian influenza or shedding of H5 or H7 virus by migratory birds, authorities in most E.U. nations recommend or mandate confinement of all flocks depending on jurisdiction and legislation.  Once avian influenza is detected through surveillance in migratory birds, commercial flocks should be confined to prevent infection.


The USDA has numerous advisories on their website for the information of both backyard poultry and hobbyist-owners of poultry. Appropriate recommendations are also provided for managers of commercial operations to upgrade biosecurity.  It is however necessary to adapt general principles to specific operations both with respect to structural biosecurity involving capital investment and operational biosecurity that requires planning implementation and ongoing control.


Given that there is evidence of H5N1 strain highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in the Atlantic Flyway, additional cases in wild birds will be detected through the surveillance system.  The commercial industry must endeavor to implement effective biosecurity in accordance with a predetermined program using professional resources and taking into account local risks and circumstances.