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avian influenza

Sniffing Out Disease: Dogs Trained for Wildlife Disease Surveillance

Odin is a Labrador retriever/border collie mix. By watching his wagging tail and alert expression, Colorado State University researcher Dr. Glen Golden can sense he is eager to begin his training.

Odin is one of five dogs recently adopted from shelters and animal rescue centers to become detector dogs for wildlife disease surveillance. The dogs are housed and trained at the USDA-APHIS National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) in Fort Collins, Colorado. They are part of a collaborative 12-month program to evaluate the effectiveness of training and using dogs to detect and identify waterfowl feces or carcasses infected with avian influenza (AI). If successful, this collaboration may be extended an additional 12 months.

Regionalization Plays a Key Role in Facilitating U.S. Agricultural Trade

It’s World Trade Month and a good time to consider a few of the ways that USDA helps advance trade. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) plays a vital role in the free flow of agricultural trade by keeping U.S. agriculture free from pests and diseases and certifying that millions of U.S. agricultural and food products shipped to markets abroad meet the importing countries' entry requirements. Likewise, APHIS works to ensure all imported agricultural products shipped to the United States meet our requirements to prevent pests and diseases from harming U.S. agriculture. Last year the United States exported over $138 billion of agricultural products and imported over $120 billion.

Neither Rain nor Sleet nor Snow Stops Wildlife Disease Biologists from Collecting Samples

On a cold and blustery day, APHIS wildlife disease biologist Jared Hedelius sits in his truck by the Bighorn River in Montana and waits. Although the temperatures outside are well below freezing, the mallards on the river are busy searching for food, oblivious to Jared’s swim-in live trap just a few feet from the shoreline. Soon, enough ducks have entered the trap and Jared leaves his warm truck and heads to the water. He sets up his equipment and begins collecting samples.