Becoming the fourth Midwestern state to do so this month, late yesterday APHIS announced the detection of Highly Pathogenic H5N2 in a backyard flock in Leavenworth, Kansas.
CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and
commercial poultry, to be low.
WASHINGTON, March 13, 2015 -- The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in a backyard chicken and duck flock in Leavenworth County, Kansas. This is the first finding of HPAI in the Central flyway. CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with the virus have been detected at this time.
Samples from the flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. APHIS is working closely with the Kansas Department of Agriculture to respond to the finding. State officials quarantined the affected premises and birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease.
MANHATTAN, Kansas – The Kansas Department of Agriculture was notified late Friday afternoon that samples collected from a backyard poultry flock containing both chickens and ducks in Leavenworth County returned a presumptive positive result for highly pathogenic avian influenza at the National Veterinary Services Lab.
KDA will be establishing a control zone around the premise. This case is in addition to the areas of Cherokee and Crawford counties that are under surveillance after a confirmed case of the H5N2 strain of Avian Influenza was found in Jasper County, Missouri near Asbury earlier in the week.
Avian Influenza is a contagious, rapidly spreading viral disease affecting birds. Outbreaks of a strain of avian influenza have occurred in Missouri, Arkansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Idaho and are not considered to be a threat to public health or the food supply.
Dr. Bill Brown, State Animal Health Commissioner, confirmed that a response team from KDA’s Division of Animal Health and from USDA will be dispatched to the area to conduct surveillance activities and to collect additional sample from flocks within the control zone. “It is important to know where backyard flocks of poultry exist. We will be seeking information about the presence of backyard flocks in Leavenworth County.”
It should be noted that while related to the H5N1 virus – which has killed several hundred people around the globe – these particular H5 viruses (H5N2 & H5N8) have not demonstrated a similar ability to infect and sicken humans.
Although migratory birds are viewed as the primary suspects in the spread of these avian viruses, exactly how they managed to infect commercial flocks in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Arkansas hasn’t been announced.
While it seems probable that migratory birds brought the virus to the Pacific Northwest, the sudden leap 1,000 miles to the east and the movement of the virus from north-to-south across the central states during the winter, have some questioning the role of migratory birds (see CIDRAP H5N2 shows up on Arkansas turkey farm).
Last November – a few weeks before the first North American HPAI H5 outbreaks were reported – in Bird Flu Spread: The Flyway Or The Highway?, we looked at the often bitter debate over how these viruses spread. In it, I wrote:
The debate over the role of migratory birds in the spread of avian flu has been a contentious one, with bird enthusiasts pointing to the poorly managed poultry trade as being the root cause, while those in the poultry industry are often quick to blame migratory birds (see Study: The Role Of Migratory Birds In Spreading Bird Flu).
Since I don’t have a bird in this fight, I readily concede that both are probably significant contributing factors in the spread of the virus. I see no reason why they should be mutually exclusive.
Whether there is some other mechanism aiding and abetting migratory birds in the spread of these viruses across the country – perhaps through the movement of people, equipment, poultry products, or supplies - has yet to be established.
The USDA continues their epidemiological investigation, and continues to urge that commercial poultry growers increase biosecurity, but as of their latest audio PSA (see Looking Into the Latest High Path AI Cases (audio)), state that no evidence of farm-to-farm spread has been detected.