Market News & Headlines >> APHIS Releases Bird Flu Report

There are likely several ways the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus could be transmitted, including "lapses in biosecurity practices and environmental factors,” USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said Monday in an epidemiology report outlining its initial findings through June 5.

In a statement on its website, APHIS said it could not yet associate HPAI transmission with one factor or group of factors in a statistically significant way and would continue to update the report as more analyses are completed. So far APHIS has conducted investigations on more than 80 commercial poultry farms.

APHIS said wild birds were believed to be the “original pathway” for the spread of HPAI to commercial poultry facilities and that transmission may have occurred between farms. The agency observed practices including: Employees moving between infected and non-infected farms; lack of cleaning and disinfection of vehicles traveling between farms and sharing of equipment between infected and non-infected farms. Rodents or small wild birds were also found inside of poultry buildings.

Air samples collected outside of infected poultry barns were found to contain virus particles, indicating the virus could be transmitted by air and high winds might play a role in the spread. “Preliminary analysis of wind data shows a relationship between sustained high winds and an increase in the number of infected farms approximately 5 days later,” APHIS said.  The agency said it was conducting more analyses to better distinguish environmental factors that may contribute to virus spread.