USGS Says Alaska a Hot Spot for Avian Influenza to Enter North America

While no highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses have been found in Alaska, the state is an important area to monitor because of migratory bird flyways from North America and Eurasia that overlap it.

The U.S. Geological Survey has released additional evidence that western Alaska is still a hot spot for avian influenza to enter North America. The new report published in Virology Journal by BioMed Central said that, while no highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses have been found in Alaska, the state is an important area to monitor because of migratory bird flyways from North America and Eurasia that overlap it.

"Our past research in western Alaska has shown that while we have not detected the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, up to 70 percent of the other avian influenza viruses isolated in this area were found to contain genetic material from Eurasia, providing evidence for high levels of intercontinental viral exchange," said Andy Ramey, a scientist with the USGS Alaska Science Center and lead author of the report. "This is because Asian and North American migratory flyways overlap in western Alaska."

According to the USGS April 5 news release, "most strains of avian influenza are not highly pathogenic and cause few signs of disease in infected wild birds. However, in poultry, some low-pathogenic strains can mutate into highly pathogenic avian influenza strains that cause contagious and severe illness or death among poultry, and sometimes among wild birds as well. Past research by the USGS found low pathogenic H9N2 viruses in an Emperor Goose and a Northern Pintail. Both viruses were nearly identical genetically to viruses found in wild bird samples from Lake Dongting, China, and Cheon-su Bay, South Korea."

The H9N2 viruses are not known to infect humans, but similar viruses have caused disease outbreaks in domestic poultry in Asia, Ramey said.

USGS scientists collaborated with colleagues at the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel, Alaska, and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Georgia to obtain and test bird samples from Alaska Native subsistence hunters in Spring 2015. Hunters provided researchers with over 1,000 swabs from harvested water birds, which are the primary hosts of avian influenza viruses.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Easy to Use Safety Incident App

    Record incidents on the go with IndustrySafe’s mobile app. Collect data for multiple types of incidents including including near misses, vehicle and environmental incidents, and employee and non-employee injuries; at job sites and remote locations—with or without web access.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. IndustrySafe is here to help. We put together a resource that’s easy to digest so you can get answers to your training questions and ensure you're complying with OSHA's standards.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus