In January when a certain type of avian influenza virus, that had caused problems in Europe, was discovered in some wild ducks in the Carolinas USDA experts alerted the nation's poultry producers that trouble was coming.  Dr. Rosemary Sifford with USDA's Veterinary Services says instead of just dying out over the summer, which is what happened during the 2015 outbreak, the new variant has lead to continued outbreaks nationwide, and right here in the Northwest.  The virus has impacted 47 states at this point.


So how long is this strain of Bird Flu going to continue to pester the United States?  Sifford says they fully expect the virus at some point mutate and reassert itself as a different less virulent strain.


“Unfortunately, we don't have a clear indication of how long that might be and and certainly looking to our friends in Europe who've been dealing with this for about a year longer than we have it doesn't appear to be going anywhere soon.”


If there is any positive news to report from this strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Sifford says its had less of an impact on trade than the 2015 version.


“One of the reasons for that is the response that we had to the 2015 outbreak.  The trade staff worked very diligently to update trade agreements with our trading partners and to negotiate agreements where the restricted zones would be small as possible.  In many cases we were able to negotiate that a trading partner would only restrict the county or the control zone around an infected premises which gives us a lot more flexibility than where we historically had whole states restricted.”


HPAI this year has already resulted in over 50 million U.S. birds being destroyed to slow the spread of the virus.


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