Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory participating in surveillance for highly contagious avian influenza in Kansas
MANHATTAN — A Kansas State University lab is part of a federal effort to monitor for cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Kansas and other states.
The Molecular Services unit of the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services National Wildlife Disease Program, the largest national avian influenza surveillance effort for U.S. wild bird populations. Highly pathogenic avian influenza is a contagious and sometimes deadly virus that threatens domestic bird populations, especially poultry.
"Although highly pathogenic avian influenza has not been detected in Kansas since April 2022, fall bird migrations pose a reintroduction risk that could once again threaten domestic bird populations," said Lance Noll, clinical assistant professor at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
"Surveillance testing is an important tool for detecting and identifying the distribution of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild bird populations, as well as for the potential spread of the virus into new areas of concern," Noll said. "Through participation in this surveillance program, the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is contributing to ongoing efforts of early detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza for the state of Kansas."
The diagnostic lab's sampling efforts began in May and will continue through February 2023, focusing primarily on dabbling ducks from hunter harvest, agency harvest or live capture and release, Noll said. Samples testing positive for avian influenza and the H5 subtype are considered presumptive positives for the disease and are forwarded to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for confirmatory testing and strain identification.
“Our Molecular Services lab has been testing wild bird surveillance samples from Kansas, as well as many from Texas and Oklahoma," Noll said. "This is a nationwide surveillance program and we are one of many National Animal Health Network labs across the country who are participating in the effort."
In the last month, highly positive avian influenza H5N1-positive wild birds have been identified in several neighboring states, including Colorado, Oklahoma and Iowa, as well as in many other states. Confirmed cases in commercial and/or backyard poultry operations have also been recently reported in states across the region, including Colorado, Nebraska, Texas and Minnesota.
"Veterinary practitioners are trained to identify and help design disease containment programs for many species, including poultry," said Gregg Hanzlicek, a K-State veterinarian and director of production animal field investigations for the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. "If your flock experiences any health issue, please contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible."
To stay up to date with the most recent detections of the disease, visit 2022 USDA Detections of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. Questions about the disease also can be directed to the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory's client care services at email@example.com or 866-512-5650.