Surveillance for Avian Influenza - 2011 and Future

KDWPT participated in the national surveillance program aimed at the early detection of the Asian Bird Flu. Hunters and birdwathers have played a vital role in the effort. Federal funding for KDWPT has been cut, and further HPAI surveillance by KDWPT has been terminated. There is the possibility of more funding if there is a detection in North America. For now, the funding has gone away, but the threat is still very real; nothing has changed with the virulence of the the disease, only the surveillance (or lack thereof).
HPAI still kills around 59% of those people who become infected. It is currently found in countries in the Far East, Middle East, Africa, Europe. See this USGS map. Almost all human deaths associated with this virus are related to close to contact with infected birds. There has not been a documented case of human-to-human transmission that we're aware of. However, viruses are masters of mutation and recombinations are expected, but whether or not something more infectious and easily transmitted will emerge is unknown at this time. KDWPT will continue to work with its partners and relay important information as it becomes available.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks participated in the national surveillance effort aimed at
the early detection of the Asian type of avian influenza
(HPAI H5N1) currently circulating in birds overseas.
In four years of testing across the U.S no evidence of the Asian Bird Flu has been detected in wild birds.

Federal funding for HPAI surveillance in Kansas has been terminated until further notice. KDWPT is prepared to begin surveillance immediately, if federal funding becomes available.

How KDWPT Conducted Surveillance
Our early detection surveillance included two different methods. Similarly to previous years, KDWPT biologists asked hunters for permission to swab their bagged puddle ducks and geese for testing. The sampling procedure involved taking a quick swab of the throat and the cloaca. In addition, KDWPT performed regular mortality surveys in selected areas where waterfowl congregate. We had personnel in the field strictly watching for unusual deaths (mortality) and sick birds (morbidity) in sensitive waterfowl species such as wood ducks and other puddle ducks, diving ducks, shovelers, gulls, terns, grebes, and some shorebirds.

KDWP's Agency Partners in the Kansas Surveillance Effort
The Wildlife Services division of USDA-APHIS collected environmental samples, as well as tested hunter-killed birds in Kansas. The Kansas Animal Health Department tested flocks of domestic poultry, as well as flocks of captive gamebirds. The Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory provided rapid testing services to all of our agencies. In partnership, the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and the Kansas Department of Health & Environment established an Avian Influenza Hotline ( 1-800-566-4518) for people to report concerns or to ask questions regarding avian influenza. The Kansas Department of Health & Environment continues to be highly involved in pandemic flu preparedness activities in Kansas. For more information see the agency links at the bottom of this page.

Hunters: A Vital Part of the Surveillance Effort
Hunters voluntarily provided their birds for swabbing when requested by either KDWP or USDA personnel. The sampling did not affect the edibility or the quality of the meat; it was a simple and quick swab of the throat and cloaca. However, the test was not a food safety test. Biologists performed a quick inspection of the bird to determine age and sex.

Current Requests
Gamebird breeders can and should contact the KAHD at (785) 296-2326 if they suspect a problem. Members of the general public should notify KDWP or USDA-Wildlife Services if they notice any unusual deaths in waterfowl species. The USDA also recommends reporting deaths in species such as songbirds when there are 5 or more individuals involved. Their toll-free number is 1-866-4-USDA-WS . The carcasses must be freshly dead or chilled to be of diagnostic value---never frozen. Additionally, KDWP is interested in the health of all wildlife. Please call 620-342-0658 Ext. 209 when sick wildlife are encountered.

Relax and Enjoy Your Hunt
To date, the High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI H5N1) or Asian strain of the bird flu, has not been detected in North America and has not been isolated from any apparently healthy swabbed bird from anywhere in the world. All HPAI H5N1 detections have been from foreign countries (particularly in the Far East/Asia) and the infected birds were already dead or dying of the disease when discovered. The chances of a North American hunter encountering this virus are extremely low to zero. Furthermore, in its current form, the virus is not easily contracted by man. Although the few hundred deaths overseas in the past several years have been highly publicized, they make up an extremely small percentage of the people who have been exposed. To put the numbers in perspective, the CDC estimates that 36,000 people die in the U.S. each year from the human strains of influenza. Although currently absent from North America, HPAI H5N1 does kill 59% of those infected in foreign countries.

Take These Routine Precautions When Handling Any Wild Game

  • Do not handle or eat sick game.
  • Wear rubber or disposable latex gloves while handling and cleaning game, wash hands with soap and water, and thoroughly clean knives, equipment and surfaces that come in contact with game.
  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke while handling animals.
  • All game should be thoroughly cooked (well done or 160 degrees F).
  • By law, do not bring injured or orphaned wildlife home and keep as pets----animals found in the wild need to stay in the wild. Report sick wildlife to KDWP by calling 620-342-0658 Ext 209.
Visit these websites of KDWP's partners in the surveillance for avian influenza in Kansas:

Avian Influenza (Kansas Department of Health & Environment) Also contains links to human flu and pandemic preparedness .

Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Home page containing links to contacts and further information.

Public Health and Veterinary Alerts (Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine) Also contains links for West Nile Virus and CWD.

Kansas Animal Health Department (KAHD) - Contains contact information for avian influenza testing of captive gamebird flocks

Avian Influenza (USDA) Contains links to extensive information.

Avian Influenza Home Page (Dept of Interior - USGS) – Contains links to extensive information

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (Dept. of Interior - US Fish & Wildlife Service) Contains links to extensive information.