The Department of Agriculture and Department of the Interior will expand wild bird monitoring for highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza beyond Alaska through cooperative agreements with the contiguous states, along with Hawaii and other Pacific Islands.
"Because we cannot control wild birds, our best protection is an early warning system, and this move to test thousands more wild birds throughout the country will help us to quickly identify, respond, and control the virus, if it arrives in the United States," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in a prepared statement.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said, "These coordinated federal and state testing programs will be important this fall as birds now nesting in Alaska and Canada begin their migration south through the continental United States."
Beginning in mid-2006, the USDA, DOI, state of Alaska, and University of Alaska tested nearly 10,000 wild birds. The USDA reported that highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza was not detected.
As part of "An early detection system for H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild migratory birds—U.S. Interagency Strategic Plan," the USDA completed cooperative agreements with 48 states and, as of August, was finalizing agreements with two states. The agreements will expand the monitoring of wild birds by providing nearly $4 million for state agencies to obtain samples from specific species of wild migratory birds at certain sites under plans coordinated through four national flyway councils.
The DOI's U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has finalized cooperative agreements with California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and will eventually finalize an agreement with Hawaii. These states and other cooperators received $1.9 million from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to implement monitoring strategies in each state's surveillance plan.
The national wild bird monitoring plan is part of President Bush's National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. President Bush allocated $29 million in the fiscal year 2006 avian influenza supplemental funding package for implementation of the wild bird monitoring plan. The funds were allocated to the USDA and DOI.
For up-to-date information about wild bird monitoring for early detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the United States, visit the National HPAI Early Detection Data System online at http://wildlifedisease.nbii.gov/ai. The Web site shows the states where samples have been collected and includes the number of samples collected from each state.
To learn more about the Department of Agriculture's and Department of the Interior's avian influenza efforts overall, log onto www.usda.gov/birdflu and www.doi.gov/issues/avianflu.