As students of this site are aware, avian influenza already exists in the waterfowl and domestic fowl of North America (contrary to the many public services announcements in May and June 2006). It is a natural phenomenon.
Archive Number 20060704.1834, Published Date 04-JUL-2006
Subject PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza, ostriches – South Africa, H5N2: OIE

“[First of all, this is _not_ the Avian Influenza virus that has infected humans. We have previously seen this virus — Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N2 (HPAI H5N2) — in North America and Europe. In 1983, a now historic outbreak in Pennsylvania in the USA was attributed to H5N2. Mexico (1994) and Texas, USA (2004) also had North American HPAI H5N2 outbreaks. Italy had HPAI H5N2 in 1997 (Italy also had HPAI H7N1 in turkeys in 1999- 2000). A complete table of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreaks in poultry by subtype until the end of 2003 is available at

Occasionally, there are outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in US domestic fowl. What has not yet occurred, as far as the public has been told, are any evidence of the H5N1 avian influenza.

Some results of this year’s bird surveillance have been released. See Test results (maybe). I haven’t seen any follow-up as to whether the state has decide who will be notified, when, how, if the H5N1 strain is detected in our birds. See National Public Radio, May 19th 2006, Elizabeth Arnold with Deb Rocque, USFWS, saying no decision yet as to how or when to release info.

The following research paper concludes that avian influenza can be acquired through handling of wild birds. Note especially —

  • much as in HIV and AIDS, or with TB, one can be exposed or infected but yet NOT get the disease; the antibodies to the bird flu virus indicate these people were exposed.
  • it is important to educate one’s self appropriately; the state, federal or tribal officials are not infallible or may misjudge the public.
  • read carefully; 97 people were tested; only 87 worked with or hunted ducks; 3 people tested positive for exposure.
  • the study needs to be confirmed; our region would be important for this because of our exposure to wild birds, because we represent different ancestries from those in Iowa, because we have different ways of handling birds. We could contribute important scientific understanding to an emerging world concern.


Emerging Infectious Diseases, Volume 12, Number 8–August 2006
Gill JS, Webby R, Gilchrist MJR, Gray GC. Avian influenza among waterfowl hunters and wildlife professionals. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2006 Aug [2006-07-24]. Available from

James S. Gill,* Comments to Author Richard Webby,† Mary J.R. Gilchrist,* and Gregory C. Gray‡, *University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory, Iowa City, Iowa, USA; †St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, USA; and ‡University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, Iowa, USA

We report serologic evidence of avian influenza infection in 1 duck hunter and 2 wildlife professionals with extensive histories of wild waterfowl and game bird exposure. Two laboratory methods showed evidence of past infection with influenza A/H11N9, a less common virus strain in wild ducks, in these 3 persons.

Until now, serologic studies of the transmission of subtype H5N1 and other highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza have focused on humans who have contact with infected domestic poultry. In this cross-sectional seroprevalence study, we provide evidence of past influenza A/H11 infection in persons who were routinely, heavily exposed to wild ducks and geese through recreational activities (duck hunting) or through their employment (bird banding). To our knowledge, this study is the first to show direct transmission of influenza A viruses from wild birds to humans….


Virus transmission from wild waterfowl to humans has not been documented. To our knowledge this study is the first to assess hunters with substantial exposures to wild ducks and geese, the known natural reservoir of influenza A virus in nature. (During late August and early September in Iowa, when the banding of wild ducks occurs, and in mid-September, when duck hunting begins, a significant proportion of hatch-year mallards (up to 65%) and other ducks may be infected with influenza A virus according to other studies in North America. Later in the season, as the duck migration progresses, a decrease in prevalence is commonly seen (1,8). In late August 2004, we isolated influenza virus from mallards (60%) and from wood ducks (13%) in Iowa (data not shown).

Even though the H11-positive study participants had several years of exposure to wild birds infected with avian influenza virus through hunting and duck banding, they did not wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, masks, or eye protection. These participants also did not use tobacco, a recently identified risk factor among swine facility workers with elevated serum antibodies against swine strains of influenza.[emphasis added]

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