Submitted to: Emerging Infectious Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/30/2007
Publication Date: 4/1/2007
Citation: Winker, K., Mccracken, K.G., Gibson, D.D., Pruett, C.L., Meier, R., Huettmann, F., Wege, M., Kulikova, I.V., Zhuravlev, Y.N., Perdue, M. ., Spackman, E., Suarez, D.L., Swayne, D.E. 2007. Movements of birds and avian influenza from Asia into Alaska. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 13(4):547-552. Interpretive Summary: The Asian-origin H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) has been identified in migratory birds. We conducted a seven year surveillance program looking for H5N1 HPAI viruses in summer breeding grounds in Alaska which is a overlap zone for North American and Asia migratory birds. No H5N1 viruses were found in 8255 samples examined. The risk of intercontinental transfer of H5N1 HPAI virus is relatively low.
Technical Abstract: Asian-origin avian influenza (AI) virus is spread in part by migratory birds. We describe the extensive overlap of Asian and American bird vectors in Alaska as the ‘Beringian Crucible’. Seven years of AI surveillance among waterfowl and shorebirds in this region (1998-2004; 8,255 samples) show remarkably low infection rates (0.06%), suggesting an Arctic effect on viral ecology. Despite extensive vector overlap and a genuine disease threat, our data combining the genetics, evolutionary biology, and ecology of influenza viruses and their hosts in Alaska suggest that the risk (and probably frequency) of intercontinental viral transfer in this region is relatively low.