In 1997, avian influenza H5N1, the cause of infections and several deaths among the Hong Kong community, was linked to infection in live poultry. Avian influenza has been the subject of several articles in JAVMA, most recently an interview with Dr. David Swayne of the USDA Agricultural Research Service Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory at Athens, Ga, about the subject (see JAVMA, June 1, 1998).
This June, when Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman honored 61 ARS employees at the 54th annual USDA Honor Awards ceremony, he included the seven-member Hong Kong H5N1 avian influenza research group, led by Dr. Swayne. The team was recognized for its research leading to advanced understanding of the pathobiology and epidemiology of Hong Kong H5N1 avian influenza and development of strategies to protect US poultry from this disease.
A massive poultry slaughter was undertaken in the last week of 1997, and no new cases of H5N1 have been reported since that time.