Presenter: Mike Berger

Commission Agenda Item No. 12
Avian Influenza Update
August 2006

I. Executive Summary: This item presents an overview of the present status of avian influenza and efforts to gain additional understanding of the disease.

II. Discussion: Avian influenza (AI) is widely endemic in wild populations of waterfowl and many other species of birds. The emergence and spread of a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 subtype in Asia in recent years has elevated concerns about potential expansion of this virus to North America. Although (HPAI) H5N1 has not been detected in North America, public concern has been heightened by media coverage about the virus in Asia and its spread to Europe and Africa. Since there is a potential for this virus to mutate to a form more readily transmitted to wild birds that migrate from Asia and Russia to North America, steps are being taken to begin monitoring wild birds. Thus, government agencies, particularly state and federal wildlife agencies, are being called upon to mount an early detection system to determine if and when the virus arrives in North America. As a result, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be part of the national early detection and surveillance program this fall. We will be collecting a variety of waterfowl and shore birds for testing beginning as early as this September.