Avian Influenza

Since 2006, USGS has partnered with agencies around the world to monitor the spread of highly pathogenic (HPAI) avian influenza.

In 2014, USGS scientists detected three HPAI viruses for the first time in wild birds in North America: H5N2, H5N8, and a recombinant H5N1. In response to HPAI detections, our scientists are working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other Federal and state agency partners.

Scientists are focusing efforts on HPAI surveillance, genomics, mechanisms of disease spread in wildlife and the environment, and the implications of avian ecology on HPAI disease spread.

Diagram of USGS Avian Influenza Research Capabilities

Cooperative Research

Visualizing Avian Influenza — Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Victims and Vectors: Understanding wild migratory birds and their role in highly pathogenic avian influenza transmission — Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Detected for the First Time in Wild Birds in North America — GeoHealth Newsletter

Detection of Novel Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Viruses in Wild Birds— Wildlife Health Bulletin

Avian Influenza resources — USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

FAO-USGS Avian Influenza Projects — Western Ecological Research Center

Sample image from the Avian Influenza Transmission Risk Model Web Application available on the Visualizing Avian Influenza web site.

USGS Fact Sheet 2015-3059 provides additional details about the USGS role and response to highly pathogenic avian influenza.

  • News

  • Unusual Suspects: Diving Ducks and Avian influenza

    Due to the global threat to health and human safety posed by avian influenza monitoring has been conducted in the United States to determine the prevalence of such viruses in our wild waterfowl. 

  • Much ado about the avian flu

    Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), commonly referred to as bird flu, is making its way across North America. In December 2014, the USGS detected three related HPAI H5 viruses in Washington state. To date, strains have been detected in wild birds in 14 states and commercial and backyard poultry in 15 states. Nine states have had outbreaks in both wild birds and poultry.


Alaska Science Center Bird Migration Studies

Alaska’s position within migratory bird flyways of the Pacific Basin.  Alaska is an international crossroads for millions of migratory birds that journey each spring from wintering areas in Asia, Russia, South America, and Australasia.

  • Publications

  • Wild bird surveillance for highly pathogenic avian influenza H5 in North America

    It is unknown how the current Asian origin highly pathogenic avian influenza H5 viruses arrived, but these viruses are now poised to become endemic in North America. Wild birds harbor these viruses and have dispersed them at regional scales. What is unclear is how the viruses may be moving from the wild bird reservoir into poultry holdings. Active surveillance of live wild birds is likely the best way to determine the true distribution of these viruses.

    Virology Journal, v. 12, September 2015

  • Rapidly Expanding Range of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Viruses

    The movement of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) virus across Eurasia and into North America and the virus’ propensity to reassort with co-circulating low pathogenicity viruses raise concerns among poultry producers, wildlife biologists, aviculturists, and public health personnel worldwide. Surveillance, modeling, and experimental research will provide the knowledge required for intelligent policy and management decisions.

    Emerging Infectious Diseases, v. 21, no. 7, July 2015