The same strain of avian flu that killed around 50 million chickens and turkeys in the United States last year has resurfaced after 14 months, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists found the H5N2 strain of avian flu in a wild mallard duck in a state refuge in Fairbanks, Alaska, as they completed routine surveillance tests. The department has been conducting the tests on poultry since the devastating outbreak last year, Fox News reports. The last time H5N2 was detected was in June 2015, the USDA said.
Following the news, the agency has recommended that all farmers and poultry production companies recheck their cleaning and security regulations to make sure their birds are healthy.
Wild birds can carry avian flu without showing any symptoms and infect domestic birds through feathers or fecal matter.
Alaska lies on the migratory route of birds that fly between North America and Asia. These courses make it a likely target for the introduction of avian diseases from other countries, according to the US Geological Survey.
However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider the current risk of infection to the general public low.
The 2015 outbreak cost millions of dollars in lost business as export partners restricted or suspended deals from states and countries that had infected birds. The crisis also raised egg prices to record highs and limited the nation’s supply of turkey meat.
Scientists attributed last year’s outbreak to dropping of wild ducks and geese as they flew across the country, shedding and transmitting the disease onto farms, where the virus quickly infected and killed entire chicken and turkey flocks.
Meanwhile, a low-pathogen H5 avian flu outbreak hit a duck farm in southern Ontario, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The farm was quarantined, cleaned and thoroughly disinfected, reports the Digital Journal.
In the US, the same low-pathogen virus was found in live bird markets in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The USDA does say that this strain is not uncommon in farm poultry and live bird markets, and the chances of infection are not as high as other avian flu variants.