During the past decade, several examples of the ability of H5 and H7 low-pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) viruses to mutate to high-pathogenicity (HP) viruses have been documented worldwide. During this time, the introduction and persistence of an H7N2 LPAI virus in the northeast live-bird marketing system in the United States has raised concern on how to prevent the possibility of such a mutation occurring in this country. The United States has periodically experienced trade restrictions based on the occasional introduction of H5 and H7 LPAI viruses into commercial poultry and based on AI-related changes in the import requirements for poultry and poultry products of several of our trading partners. Consequently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is exploring options for how our regulatory response to H5 and H7 LPAI viruses might be revised to better protect our domestic poultry flocks from HPAI and to ensure that any interruptions in trade are scientifically supportable. The options under consideration include mandatory and voluntary measures to improve the surveillance for and control of H5 and H7 LPAI virus infections.
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