No U.S. poultry have been found to be sick or dead from the disease
in connection with the latest discovery, the USDA said.
Different strains of bird flu, which can be spread to poultry by
wild birds, have been confirmed across Asia and in Europe in recent
weeks. Authorities have culled millions of birds in affected areas
to control the outbreaks.
In 2014 and 2015, the United States killed nearly 50 million birds,
most of which were egg-laying hens, during its bout of highly
pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI. The losses pushed U.S. egg
prices to record highs and prompted trading partners to ban imports
of U.S. poultry.
“This finding serves as a powerful reminder that there is still HPAI
circulating in wild birds, and producers and industry need to
continue to be vigilant about biosecurity to protect domestic
poultry," said Jack Shere, the USDA's chief veterinarian.
The infected mallard duck in Montana was found as part of routine
surveillance for bird flu, according to the USDA. The agency said it
was actively looking for the virus in commercial poultry operations,
live bird markets and in other wild migratory birds, which can carry
the disease without appearing sick.
The strain of flu detected in Montana was a "Eurasian/North American
reassortant" of the H5N2 strain of the virus, according to the USDA.
[to top of second column]
France, which has the largest poultry flock in the European Union,
has reported outbreaks of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu virus.
In South Korea, the rapid spread of the H5N6 strain of the virus has
led to the country's worst-ever outbreak of bird flu.
In China, people have died this winter amid an outbreak of the H7N9
virus in birds.
No human infections have occurred in the United States, according to
(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Bill Rigby)
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