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Industry and government have programs in place to detect avian influenza early. While the emphasis is on H5N1 highly pathogenic AI, we are also on the alert for other varieties of the disease, even although these pose no threat to humans. We focus on the H5 and H7 types of avian influenza because these are the only ones that can go from the mild, or "low-pathogenic" form to the severe or highly pathogenic form, and only highly pathogenic AI can be threatening to humans. Programs include:
Wild Bird Monitoring
The federal government has launched a program to take up to 100,000 samples from wild birds across the country this year. Alaska is a major focus of the sampling program in order to detect the presence of Asian bird flu in migratory birds that spend the winter in Asia and the summer in Alaska. The objective is to detect any incursion of Asian bird flu into North America via this route and give advance warning.
State Surveillance and Testing
Major poultry production states have monitoring and surveillance programs in which backyard flocks, small flocks, and other birds are tested for avian influenza. No outbreak will go unnoticed.
Chicken Flock Testing
The National Chicken Council is also sponsoring a program to ensure that flocks that will enter the food supply are free of Asian bird flu and the other hazardous types of avian influenza. Participating companies test each flock while it is still on the farm. If any flock tests positive for the H5 or H7 types of avian influenza, regardless of pathogenicity, that flock will be destroyed on the farm and none of the birds will enter the food supply.