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Rev Sci Tech. 2000 Aug;19(2):463-82.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza.

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Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture, Athens, Georgia 30605, USA.


Highly pathogenic (HP) avian influenza (AI) (HPAI) is an extremely contagious, multi-organ systemic disease of poultry leading to high mortality, and caused by some H5 and H7 subtypes of type A influenza virus, family Orthomyxoviridae. However, most AI virus strains are mildly pathogenic (MP) and produce either subclinical infections or respiratory and/or reproductive diseases in a variety of domestic and wild bird species. Highly pathogenic avian influenza is a List A disease of the Office International des Epizooties, while MPAI is neither a List A nor List B disease. Eighteen outbreaks of HPAI have been documented since the identification of AI virus as the cause of fowl plague in 1955. Mildly pathogenic avian influenza viruses are maintained in wild aquatic bird reservoirs, occasionally crossing over to domestic poultry and causing outbreaks of mild disease. Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses do not have a recognised wild bird reservoir, but can occasionally be isolated from wild birds during outbreaks in domestic poultry. Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses have been documented to arise from MPAI viruses through mutations in the haemagglutinin surface protein. Prevention of exposure to the virus and eradication are the accepted methods for dealing with HPAI. Control programmes, which imply allowing a low incidence of infection, are not an acceptable method for managing HPAI, but have been used during some outbreaks of MPAI. The components of a strategy to deal with MPAI or HPAI include surveillance and diagnosis, biosecurity, education, quarantine and depopulation. Vaccination has been used in some control and eradication programmes for AI.

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