"Low pathogenic" H5N1 Bird Flu virus found in wild ducks in Maryland and Pennsylvania

Saturday, September 2, 2006

A Mallard duck.

The United States Department of Agriculture has announced that a "low pathogenic" form of the H5N1 Avian Flu has been found in fecal samples taken from wild Mallard ducks located in Queen Anne's County in Maryland and in Crawford County located in Pennsylvania. Officials stress that the strain is of no risk to humans. Samples from the ducks in Pennsylvania were taken on August 28.

"Testing has ruled out the possibility of this being the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has spread through birds in Asia, Europe and Africa. Test results thus far indicate this is low pathogenic avian influenza, which poses no risk to human health. The fecal samples were collected on August 2 from resident wild ducks in Queen Anne's County, Maryland, as part of a research project conducted by Ohio State University. The fecal samples came from mallards that showed no signs of sickness," said the USDA in a statement on its website. Ducks in Pennsylvania also had shown no signs of being sick.

"Additional testing at NVSL will confirm the pathogenicity of the virus. These results are expected within two weeks and will be made public when completed. It should be noted that wild birds are known to harbor many influenza viruses, and the finding of these viruses during routine testing is not unusual," added the statement.

Officials also state that there is no threat to the U.S. chicken industry.

"There is nothing in international rules that would indicate this low-pathogenic bird flu case being a problem" for the poultry industry in the U.S said, director of communications with the National Chicken Council, Richard Lobb, but some poultry groups are worried that some countries may impose sanctions on American chickens.

This is the second time this year a low pathogenic strain of the Bird Flu has been found in the U.S.. Two wild swans in Michigan tested positive for the same strain on August 14.

Since 1975, the same strain has shown up at least six times in the U.S.