The nonpathogenic avian influenza (AI) outbreak in Pennsylvania began in December 1996 when there was a trace back from a New York live bird market to a dealer's flock. A total of 18 commercial layer flocks, two commercial layer pullet flocks, and a commercial meat turkey flock were diagnosed with nonpathogenic AI (H7N2) viral infection with an economic loss estimated at between $3 and $4 million. Clinical histories of flocks infected with the disease included respiratory disease, elevated morbidity and mortality throughout the house, egg production drops, depression, and lethargy. A unique gross lesion in the commercial layers was a severe, transmural oviduct edema with white to gray flocculent purulent material in the lumen. Layer flocks on two separate premises were quarantined but permitted to remain in the facilities until cessation of virus shed was determined through virus isolation. Several months later, clinical AI appeared again in these flocks. It is not known whether the recurrence of disease in these cases is due to persistence of the organism in the birds or the environment. In addition to serologic testing and virologic testing by chicken embryo inoculation, an antigen capture enzyme immunoassay was evaluated as a diagnostic tool for AI. Research projects related to disinfection, burial pits, and geographical system technology were developed because of questions raised concerning transmission, diagnosis, and control of nonpathogenic AI (H7N2).
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