Photo: Robert Elko

In December we reported on a highly pathogenic avian influenza in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.  Avian influenza is now also active in central and eastern North America. We again recommend reviewing your biosecurity measures and updating as necessary. 

Review the letter below from Michelle Willette at the Minnesota Raptor Center for excellent resources.  I'm excited to follow the future of the emergency management group of the Clinical Wildlife Health Initiative! 


Kai Williams
Executive Director

E-mail message from Dr. Michelle Willette

Dear Colleagues,

The Raptor Center wants to be sure you are aware of the following information – please let us know if you have any questions.

High-pathogenicity avian influenza (H5N2) was recently confirmed in a turkey flock in west-central Minnesota.  Since mid-December 2014 here have been several findings of this virus in the Pacific flyway, where it has caused losses in domestic and backyard poultry, wild waterfowl and captive raptors.  The biggest impact of this disease is to the commercial poultry industry where depopulation has been successfully used to control the spread of the virus. 

Waterfowl, gulls and shorebirds are the natural reservoirs (carriers) of influenza viruses.  Disease is rare in these birds although they can serve as a source of infection for domestic poultry in which the disease is devastating.  Where raptors have encountered the virus (several birds used in falconry), it has been fatal.  The health risk to the public is very low and there are no food-safety concerns ;  any risk of infection would be limited to people in direct contact with infected birds.

For more information on avian influenza in general — and the situation in Minnesota in particular — please see the links at the end of this email.

We suggest that you be aware of this situation, monitor the wild birds in your care and review your biosecurity procedures, including the use of personal protective equipment.  Communicate with your staff and volunteers and note any other activities they are involved in that might increase the risk of transmitting avian disease to your facility.

General precautions include –

As this situation unfolds, be aware that warming weather and increased migration might have implications for the course of the disease.  Please let us know if you have questions.

Many of you are familiar with the Clinical Wildlife Health Initiative (CWHI) and our efforts to use wildlife presented for rehabilitation for surveillance of human, wildlife, and environmental health.  A nascent group of wildlife rehabilitators interested in emergency management has been formed to prepare for and respond to disasters and emerging diseases, such as highly pathogenic avian influenza, in captive managed wildlife.  If you are interested in joining us, please email Dr. Michelle Willette at –


Michelle M. Willette

Staff Veterinarian
The Raptor Center




The USDA provides an email alert system that will keep you up to date on the situation as it unfolds.  To join this list service click on this link and look for the "Notify Me" option.

[I followed the link and could find no such option.  ΠΞ]

Zoo Animal Health Network

Comprehensive source of information including a great online training video.

OIE – World Organization for Animal Health

(Office International des Epizoöties)

CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy)

AAZV Infectious Disease Manual - Avian Influenza:


1)  A Review of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Birds, With an Emphasis on Asian H5N1 and Recommendations for Prevention and Control

Terra R. Kelly DVM, Dipl ACZM, Michelle G. Hawkins VMD, Dipl ABVP, Christian E. Sandrock MD, MPH, and Walter M. BoyceDVM, PhD 

Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery 22(1):1-16. 2008

2)  Avian influenza A virus subtype H5N2 in a red-lored Amazon parrot

Hawkins MG1, Crossley BM, Osofsky A, Webby RJ, Lee CW, Suarez DL, Hietala SK

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2006 Jan 15;228(2):236-41

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