Karen Eggert (301) 734-7280
STATEMENT BY DR. JOHN CLIFFORD ON CONFIRMATORY AVIAN INFLUENZA TESTS FROM TURKEY SAMPLES IN VIRGINIA
July 17, 2007
“USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) has confirmed that the North American strain of H5N1 virus was present in samples taken from turkeys in Virginia and is compatible with low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). We can say for certain that this is not highly pathogenic H5N1 circulating in parts of Asia, Europe and Africa. LPAI is not a human health concern, is commonly found in birds and typically causes only minor sickness or no noticeable symptoms in birds.
“Initial screening results announced on July 11 found antibodies indicating a possible prior exposure to H5N1 in the samples, but no virus had been isolated. Further sampling and testing at NVSL allowed for sequencing tests and confirmation of the North American strain compatible with LPAI.
“As specified within established procedures to respond to H5 and H7 detections, state and industry officials have completed depopulation of all of the approximately 54,000 turkeys. Because the affected poultry producer participates in the expanded National Poultry Improvement Plan, USDA has provided 100 percent indemnity for all specified costs associated with depopulating this flock. USDA published an interim rule on September 26, 2006, expanding the voluntary cooperative federal, state and industry program to provide indemnity for eradication of H5 and H7 LPAI outbreaks.
“Virginia and industry officials have acted within the state’s Rapid Response Plan to immediately respond to the detection and have moved quickly to prevent further spread. Surveillance is still being conducted within the area surrounding the infected area, and thus far all tests have been negative.
“The close coordination with state and industry partners is instrumental in protecting the health of poultry in the United States. USDA will continue to work collaboratively with states to sample for avian influenza throughout the country.”