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Avian Influenza

On March 5, 2017, USDA confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H7 in a commercial poultry flock along the Mississippi Flyway. This HPAI H7 strain is of North American wild bird origin. And on March 7, 2017, USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed the full subtype of this HPAI H7 as North American wild bird lineage H7N9 HPAI. This finding is based upon full genome sequence analysis of the samples at the NVSL. All eight gene segments of the virus are North American wild bird lineage. This is NOT the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia. While the subtype is the same as the China H7N9 lineage that emerged in 2013, this is a different virus and is genetically distinct from the China H7N9 lineage.

USDA last confirmed several cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 in the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi flyways (or migratory bird paths) during winter 2014/spring 2015. During that time, HPAI H5 was found in wild birds, a few backyard flocks as well as commercial poultry flocks in these flyways.

USDA has both an international and a domestic role in controlling the spread of avian influenza (AI) and reducing its effects on both agriculture and public health. USDA is aware of and prepared for the emergence of new types of AI virus. The nature of the influenza virus is such that mutations occur easily. Therefore, new strains can occur naturally at any time within avian hosts. The concern is whether the changes would impart the potential to cause severe disease or increase transmissibility between birds or mammals. Regardless of these changes, the USDA plans that are currently in place, which include surveillance, reporting, biosecurity, movement control, vaccination and depopulation, can be adjusted and applied to effectively control any new virus outbreak.

For an update on avian influenza findings, view the Avian Influenza Disease website.

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USDA Avian Influenza Photos can be viewed on Flickr. Photo inquiries should be sent to