After testing over 13,000 migratory birds in Alaska this summer, no positive results for the avian flu virus, H5N1, have been detected. Now other states have begun preparations for the fall migration.
"Although no high-path H5N1 virus has yet been detected," said Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who is in Alaska this week, "we must remain vigilant and thorough in this important detection and early warning program."
Scientists believe Alaska would be one of the first locations where infected birds may be found in the U.S. because many birds migrating from the influenza hot zones in Asia migrate there in the summer. There the Asian birds co-mingle with many birds from the lower 48 states who also migrate to Alaska in the summer months.
While scientists can't do much to stop avian flu from coming to the U.S., they do hope that early diagnosis would enable the government to take any necessary precautions.
Now that fall is approaching, both state and federal biologists in the lower 48 states and Hawaii have begun capturing and sampling various migratory birds as they begin their southern migration.
This year's sampling program includes the goal of testing up to 100,000 migratory birds across the country.