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Low-Pathogenic AI Finding No Cause for Alarm

WASHINGTON -- September 1, 2006 - The finding of a low-pathogenic, North American avian influenza virus in mallard ducks in Maryland is no cause for alarm, according to veterinary expert Dr. Sherrill Davison.

“A North American strain of avian influenza is unrelated to the Asian H5N1 highly pathogenic virus that has caused so much trouble overseas,” she said.  “This finding reminds us of the continuing need for flock monitoring and biosecurity on poultry farms, but by itself is no threat to the commercial industry.” 

Dr. Davison is Associate Professor of Avian Medicine and Pathology and Director of the Laboratory of Avian Medicine and Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine   She is a scientific advisor to the National Chicken Council, which represents the nation’s chicken production and processing companies.

She noted that mallard ducks are among the species most commonly found to have avian influenza virus present in their systems, usually on a non-symptomatic basis.  There was no disease or elevated mortality among the mallards in Maryland, according to USDA.   Waterfowl such as geese and ducks are known to be the natural reservoir of avian influenza viruses.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

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