March 24, 2006 (retrieved 2006apr01)

Avian Flu Research in the YK Delta
YKHC Public Relations News Release

The US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation’s Office of Environmental Health and Engineering are working together to watch for the H5N1 strain of influenza (avian flu) in migratory birds on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta this spring hunting season. This project is planned to begin in late April and last about five weeks.

Project organizers will ask subsistence hunters in ten YK Delta villages to bring a variety of subsistence-caught birds to their village testing manager. A swab will be taken from each bird, and the bird will be returned to the hunter. The goal is to collect about 3,000 samples.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service will train YKHC’s three Environmental Health Officers in sample collection procedures. These Health Officers will then travel to the participating villages and train local village testing managers.

This is a great opportunity for subsistence hunters to play a key role in this important research project, and we ask that everyone who has an opportunity to contribute to please help out. The results of this surveillance effort are important to the people of the YK Delta, to Alaska, and to the world.

YKHC will be providing regular updates to the people of the YK Delta about this surveillance effort, including prompt notification of any positive identification of the H5N1 virus.

YKHC would like all subsistence hunters in the YK Delta to know that there is no need to stop stop hunting and eating birds in Alaska. No one has caught this avian flu from a wild bird. In addition, no cases of the H5N1 have been detected in Alaska or the United States. This research project is part of national effort to screen for the H5N1 strain of influenza.

Still, as with all game, it’s always good to use safe handling procedures.

Cook wild birds or eggs thoroughly before eating them.

Wash your hands and knife with soap after cleaning or handling any birds or eggs.

For more information, contact YKHC’s Office of Environmental Health and Engineering at 543-6420 or 1-800-478-6599.

Chris Ho
Public Information Officer
Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp.
chris_ho AT ykhc DOT org
(907) 543-6037″