USDA launches avian influenza project

Published on March 15, 2005
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The Department of Agriculture is contributing $5 million to establish a research and education project to help prevent and control avian influenza. The multidisciplinary team of researchers and extension specialists represent 17 states, and will be led by the University of Maryland.

"This grant integrates critical research, education, and extension activities that will lead to the improved prevention and control of avian influenza, a disease that continues to threaten the commercial poultry industry and has caused millions of dollars in losses in the past few years," said Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Joseph J. Jen. "This grant will bring together a group of the most prominent experts in avian influenza to improve the control of this disease in the United States."

More than $130 million in losses were sustained in an avian influenza outbreak in Virginia in 2002. And in early 2004, outbreaks of avian influenza in the eastern United States and in Texas required rapid control efforts.

Funding for the research project was provided by the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. This award, made through the National Research Initiative, is the largest made by the agency for a single animal health disease or zoonotic threat.

The project's Scientific and Stakeholder advisory boards, including the principal federal, state, local and industry partners, will play a prominent role in providing guidance and annual assessments for this national initiative for avian influenza biosecurity.

The grant will link to, and leverage with, the recently funded Department of Homeland Security's National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense, which includes work on four potential zoonoses, including avian influenza.