Tests conducted nationwide, in Kansas, reveal no current threat

In 2006, tests on nearly 75,000 wild ducks, gulls, and other birds revealed no sign of dangerous H5N1 avian influenza -- commonly known as "bird flu" -- in the United States, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Although the tests revealed several samples of a low-pathogenic (not likely to cause disease) H5N1 virus, this strain is not considered dangerous to birds or to people. In Kansas, 760 migratory birds were tested last year.

The much-publicized highly-pathogenic version of H5N1 avian influenza virus has resulted in 159 human deaths reported worldwide since 2003, spread largely by very close contact between humans and infected birds. None of the deaths have occurred in North America. In fact, highly-pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus has never been reported in any bird or other animal in North America.

Birds can be infected with many different kinds of influenza, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). Concern over the possibility that highly-pathogenic avian influenza might spread among people has lead to monitoring for these viruses on a world-wide scale.

The Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and KDHE have established a toll-free hotline for people to report concerns or ask questions regarding avian influenza. The hotline number is 1-800-566-4518.

Hotline callers will be given options to ask questions about potential avian influenza in humans from contact with infected birds or to leave a voicemail message with concerns or information on avian influenza in birds or other animals. Calls with questions or information on possible avian influenza in birds in Kansas will be returned on the next business day between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

More information on avian influenza is available online.