USDA confirms H5 virus in wild duck

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The bird was found in Fergus County, Montana.

WASHINGTON – The H5N2 bird flu virus was detected in a wild mallard duck in Montana, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Dept. of Agriculture reported. However, no illness or mortalities in domestic poultry have been detected, the agency said.

“This appears to be one of the strains we saw during the outbreak in 2014 and 2015,” Dr. Jack Shere, USDA Chief Veterinarian, said in a statement. “This finding serves as a powerful reminder that there is still avian influenza circulating in wild birds, and producers and industry need to continue to be vigilant about biosecurity to protect domestic poultry.”

Colorado State Univ. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory tested a sample taken from a hunter-harvested bird through routine surveillance. CSU forwarded the results to USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. Characterization of the sample is ongoing, APHIS said.

APHIS is urging hunters to dress game birds in the field whenever possible and practice good biosecurity to prevent the potential spread of the virus. Additionally, USDA recently launched a new educational campaign called Defend the Flock, which aims to provide commercial poultry growers and the poultry industry with resources on the best biosecurity practices to protect commercial poultry flocks from infectious diseases.

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