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Fujian H5N2 In Captive Falcons In Montana and
The above table, Captive Wild Bird Findings Confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories, from the APHIS April 1 update on avian influenza includes March 27, 2015 confirmations in two new areas.
The gyrfalcon in Flathead County represents the first confirmation in Montana (see H5N2 map) developed symptoms in early March after eating a wild duck, which appears to be a pintail that was hunter killed in December and was frozen until March indicating H5N2 was circulating in Montana when the USDA enhanced surveillance.
However, the enhanced surveillance targeted the northwest, so most wild bird confirmations were hunter killed birds which were swabbed within 24 hours. This surveillance has confirmed Fujian H5 (H5N8, H5N2, or H5N1) in 49 wild birds which were located in western states and abruptly ended in January at the end of hunting season. Hunter killed birds were indirectly tested in the Montana case because the carcass of the pintail maintained the H5N2 from the 2014 infection, which led to the gyrfalcon death in March 2015.
The detail on the gyrfalcon in St Louis County, Missouri is unclear, but the location represents the farthest east and is the first wild bird confirmed in the administrative Mississippi Flyway. If the wild bird fed to the captive falcon was also hunter killed during the fall hunting season, the confirmation would signal spread to the area which, like Montana, was not identified until the stored bird was fed to the captive bird. However, since spring hunting has begun in Missouri has begun, the recent confirmation may signal presence of H5N2 in wild birds in the area, which may have preceded the March confirmations of H5N2 in commercial turkey farms in Minnesota, Missouri, and Arkansas, as well as a chicken / duck backyard farm in Kansas.
The above confirmations follow a report of H5N2 in a Canada goose near Cheyenne Wyoming, which also signals an area that was not included in the enhanced surveillance in December and January, highlighting limitations in routine surveillance.
Moreover, the recent detections of H5N2 via routine surveillance suggests H5N2 levels are currently higher in the wild bird population in the Cenral and Mississippi flyways than the fall and the April migration will likely lead to continued detections, in the absence of enhanced surveillance.