Wild birds such as migratory ducks and geese have historically been known as reservoirs for avian influenza (AI) viruses. These birds normally can carry low pathogenicity avian influenza viruses in their respiratory or intestinal tracts and usually do not get sick. However, AI viruses, particularly H5 and H7 strains, can infect domestic poultry such as chickens and turkeys resulting in severe economic losses due to reduced production and increased mortality and culling. Recently, USDA identified Eurasian H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and mixed-origin viruses, H5N2 and a novel H5N1, in the Pacific Flyway. The HPAI H5N2 virus strain has been confirmed in several states along three of the four North American Flyways: Pacific, Central and Mississippi. This virus has been associated with the recent AI outbreaks that started in the Pacific Northwest in December 2014 and is now spreading to commercial chicken and turkey farms in the Midwest. As of May 12, 2015, 158 outbreaks caused mostly by HPAI H5N2 have resulted in the death or culling of more 33 million birds in 15 states.
This community offers avian influenza-specific self-directed certification courses. The online courses are free, but you may need to enroll to gain access.