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How do scientists study avian influenza in wild birds?

To learn more about the impacts of avian influenza on wild birds and the role wild birds may play in the spread of the virus, experts from government agencies have gathered samples from hundreds of thousands of live-captured, apparently healthy wild birds, hunter-harvested birds, and dead wild birds of all species.

Testing methods include analyses of fecal samples and swabs of the bird’s trachea, oropharynx, or cloaca. Tissues can be collected from dead birds.

The majority of the live bird and hunter-harvested avian influenza surveillance programs in the U.S. were discontinued in 2010. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center is focusing on testing sick and dead migratory birds, particularly ducks, geese and swans. This will facilitate early detection, situational awareness, and appropriate response to these viruses.

Learn more: USGS Avian Influenza