October 15, 2016


 Highly pathogenic H5N2 found in Alaska

​Posted Sept. 28, 2016

An avian influenza virus found in a mallard this August in Alaska is similar to one that caused a devastating outbreak among poultry in 2015.

The highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza virus was discovered in a sample collected Aug. 12 from a live mallard that was captured, banded, and released near Fairbanks, Alaska, according to information provided by Donna Karlsons, a spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The virus is a Eurasian-American strain, and it is more than 99 percent similar to an H5N2 virus found in December 2014 in Washington state, the first discovered in connection with the 2015 outbreak.

That outbreak led to the deaths, most through depopulation, of 50 million chickens and turkeys. Until August 2016, the last highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza virus known to be in the U.S. had been discovered in June 2015, APHIS information states. The USDA and its partners in avian influenza surveillance have collected and tested about 50,000 samples from wild birds since July 1, 2015. 

The mallard infected with the H5N2 virus in Alaska was one of 188 birds tested at a state refuge, about one-quarter of the duck population at the refuge at the time. It was caught and banded in an effort to improve knowledge on waterfowl life histories.

In an announcement published Aug. 26, APHIS officials warned that anyone who raises poultry should review their biosecurity measures. A self-assessment tool is available here.

APHIS officials also ask that people report unusual bird deaths to their state veterinarians or the USDA, the latter of which can be reached at 866-536-7593. Information on biosecurity for small flocks is available here

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