The finding of a low-pathogenic, North American subtype of avian influenza in wild birds in Michigan creates no problems for commercial poultry operations or consumers, according to the National Chicken Council.
“The finding is definitely not the ‘Asian’ bird flu that has caused problems overseas,” said Dr Sherrill Davison, Associate Professor of Avian Medicine and Pathology and Director of the diagnostic laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine and a consultant to NCC.
“The most significant fact for the commercial poultry industry is that this finding shows the monitoring and surveillance program is working, and that if Asian bird flu were to get here, we would know it.”
Mild avian influenza viruses are not uncommon in wild birds. The mute swans collected in Michigan had no evidence of disease. The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has spread in Asia, Europe and Africa has never been detected in North America.
Commercial poultry operations already protect their animals from contact with wild birds, especially migratory geese and ducks which are the natural reservoir of avian influenza viruses.
Dr William Raab, Science Advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, affirmed that the Michigan finding “poses no threat to human health” and requires no special precautions by consumers.