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Lessons learned from research and surveillance directed at highly pathogenic influenza A viruses in wild birds inhabiting North America

March 30, 2018

Following detections of highly pathogenic (HP) influenza A viruses (IAVs) in wild birds inhabiting East Asia after the turn of the millennium, the intensity of sampling of wild birds for IAVs increased throughout much of North America. The objectives for many research and surveillance efforts were directed towards detecting Eurasian origin HP IAVs and understanding the potential of such viruses to be maintained and dispersed by wild birds. In this review, we highlight five important lessons learned from research and surveillance directed at HP IAVs in wild birds inhabiting North America: (1) Wild birds may disperse IAVs between North America and adjacent regions via migration, (2) HP IAVs can be introduced to wild birds in North America, (3) HP IAVs may cross the wild bird-poultry interface in North America, (4) The probability of encountering and detecting a specific virus may be low, and (5) Population immunity of wild birds may influence HP IAV outbreaks in North America. We review empirical support derived from research and surveillance efforts for each lesson learned and, furthermore, identify implications for future surveillance efforts, biosecurity, and population health. We conclude our review by identifying five additional areas in which we think future mechanistic research relative to IAVs in wild birds in North America are likely to lead to other important lessons learned in the years ahead.

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