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Warning: Avian Flu Found in Alaska Could Start a New Outbreak

Aug 29, 2016 04:43 AM EDT
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Avian Flu
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has detected a devastating strain of avian flu in a wild mallard duck in a state refuge in Fairbanks, Alaska.
(Photo : Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has detected a devastating strain of avian flu in a wild mallard duck in a state refuge in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The strain, H5N2, is the same type of avian flu that affected more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in 15 different states last year, causing U.S. poultry exporters to lose millions of dollars because some of the countries halted all imports from the U.S.

According to the report from Fox News, the H5N2 strain has not been detected in any wild birds and poultry for 14 months since the June 2015 outbreak. The discovery was made after the July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017 routine surveillance tests of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The said tests were conducted to prevent the devastating 2015 outbreak of the disease. During the July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 routine surveillance tests, about 45,500 samples were collected.

Following the discovery of the H5N2 strain of avian flu in a wild mallard duck, officials are urging poultry owners to review their cleaning and security protocols to make sure that all their birds are healthy. Avian flu could be carried by free-flying waterfowl, including ducks, geese and shorebirds.

Pulse Headlines reported that the disease could be transmitted through feces and feathers. It may affect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl.

Scientists believe that the 2015 H5N2 outbreak was caused by droppings and of migrating wild ducks and geese as they flew across the United States. They claimed that the Eurasian strain of the virus began to mix with the American version, creating the deadly H5N2 strain.

Carriers of the disease may not present any visible symptoms. Officials are recommending farmers and Poultry companies to always separate their domesticated birds from wild birds. If farm owners suspect a possible case of avian flu, they should contact their state veterinarian or the USDA's toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

As a safety procedure, all the neighboring flocks near the confirmed case of H5N2 avian flu will be euthanized to prevent further spread of the disease.

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