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Avian influenza virus RNA in groundwater wells supplying poultry farms affected by the 2015 influenza outbreak

May 26, 2017

During the 2015 outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus
(HPAI) on poultry farms in the midwestern United States, concern was raised
about the potential for HPAI to contaminate groundwater. Our study objective was to evaluate the occurrence of HPAI in the groundwater supply wells on 13 outbreak-affected poultry farms in Iowa and Wisconsin. We sampled 20 wells, six waste-storage lagoons, and one pond. Three wells and one lagoon were positive for the matrix gene indicative of influenza A virus. Using a semi-nested qPCR assay specific to the H5 HPAI outbreak strain, one well was H5-positive, matching the outbreak virus hemagglutinin gene. Matrix gene-positive samples analyzed for avian influenza virus (AIV) by cell culture and embryonating egg culture were negative. Seven wells were positive by PCR for a poultry-specific parvovirus, thus providing corroborating evidence of virus transport pathways between poultry fecal wastes and groundwater. Our data suggest it is possible for AIV to be transported to groundwater, and during an outbreak, the potential for poultry farm wells to become contaminated with AIV should be considered.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Avian influenza virus RNA in groundwater wells supplying poultry farms affected by the 2015 influenza outbreak
DOI 10.1021/acs.estlett.7b00128
Authors Mark A. Borchardt, Susan K. Spencer, Laura E. Hubbard, Aaron Firnstahl, Joel P. Stokdyk, Dana W. Kolpin
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science & Technology Letters
Index ID 70189009
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wisconsin Water Science Center