National Wildlife Health Center

...advancing wildlife and ecosystem health

Wildlife Health Bulletin #06-05

To: Natural Resource/Conservation Managers  
From: Leslie Dierauf, Director, USGS National Wildlife Health Center
Title: Low-path Avian Flu H5N1 Found in Mallards in Pennsylvania
Date: September 3, 2006

On September 2, 2006, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Interior announced the detection of the low pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in samples from wild mallard ducks in Pennsylvania. Testing has ruled out the possibility of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has spread through birds in Asia, Europe and Africa. USDA has left open the possibility that the test detected genetic material from two separate avian influenza viruses, one containing H5 and the other containing N1.

The ducks were sampled August 28, 2006 in Crawford County, Pennsylvania and showed no clinical signs of illness. The cloacal samples were taken by Pennsylvania Game Commission personnel as part of as part of the live bird sampling strategy of the expanded wild bird monitoring program. The Pennsylvania ducks were born in the wild, fledged earlier this year and are expected to migrate this fall.

The Maryland samples that tested positive for low path H5N1, reported in Wildlife Health Bulletin 06-04 issued Friday, September 1, 2006, were fecal samples taken from the ground as part of the environmental sampling strategy.  The Maryland mallard ducks were captive hatched and are considered resident wild ducks.

Departments of Agriculture and Interior are working collaboratively with many States to sample wild birds throughout the U.S. for the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). As a result of this expanded testing program, USDA and DOI expect to identify additional cases of common strains of avian influenza in birds.

USGS WILDLIFE HEALTH BULLETINS are distributed to natural resource/conservation agencies to provide and promote information exchange about significant wildlife health threats in their geographic region.  Please distribute broadly to others in your agency with an interest in wildlife health.

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For additional information on avian influenza, please go to:

For information about the federal government’s overall efforts related to avian influenza and human pandemic preparations, go to

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