Robert Roos at CIDRAP writes: More avian flu in US birds; Asian H9N2 found in Alaska. Excerpt:
The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses H5N2 and H5N8 are continuing to turn up in US birds, with the latest detections in Montana and California, while an Asian H9N2 virus was found in wild birds in western Alaska, according to recent reports.
In Montana, the HPAI H5N2 virus was found in a captive gyrfalcon in Columbia Falls in the northwestern part of the state, the Montana Department of Livestock reported in a statement yesterday. The report apparently is the first discovery of the strain in the state.
The agency said the falcon died of unknown causes and was sent to a state wildlife lab in Bozeman for analysis. The H5N2 finding was later confirmed by a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) lab in Ames, Iowa.
The bird was owned by a falconer who has about 50 other captive birds, according to a story today in the newspaper The Missoulian. Martin Zaluski, DVM, state veterinarian, said the rest of the birds would be tested for the virus. It appears that the dead falcon was exposed to the disease through contact with a harvested wild duck, he reported.
The H5N2 virus caused outbreaks in March on several commercial turkey farms in Minnesota, Missouri, and Arkansas, as well as a backyard flock in Kansas.
H5N8 in wild California ducks
Meanwhile in California, the HPAI H5N8 virus was found in wild wigeons in two counties, Colusa and Solano, says a report that the USDA filed yesterday with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The report did not specify how many wigeons were infected. Colusa is in the Central Valley northwest of Sacramento, while Solano is in the San Francisco region.
The H5N8 strain, which originated in Asia, made its first known US appearance in a captive gyrfalcon in Washington state last December. It has since been found in a number of wild birds in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada, in commercial turkeys and chickens in California, and in backyard poultry in Oregon.
H9N2 in Alaska
In other news, researchers with the US Geological Survey reported that they found H9N2 viruses in two wild birds in Alaska that match strains from China and South Korea.
The viruses were found in testing of samples from 2,924 wild birds at the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in western Alaska, the researchers reported on Mar 30 in Virology. A fecal sample from an emperor goose and a cloacal sample from a northern pintail duck, both collected in September 2011, yielded the isolates.
All eight gene segments of the two viruses were more than 99.4% the same as recent H9N2 isolates from Lake Dongting, China, and Cheon-su Bay, South Korea, the researchers wrote.