Moriguchi S, Hosoda R, Ushine N, Kato T, Hayama S. Surveillance system for avian influenza in wild birds and implications of its improvement with insights into the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in Japan. Prev Vet Med. 2020 Dec 13;187:105234
Since the re-emergence of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in 2004, outbreaks of the viral subtypes HPAI, H5N1, H5N8, and H5N6 in wild birds, poultry, and zoo birds have occurred in Japan. In 2008, a nation-wide avian influenza (AI) surveillance program was started for the early detection of the HPAI virus (HPAIV) and for the assessment of HPAIV infection among wild birds. In this study, we aimed to conduct an overview of the AI surveillance system of wild birds in Japan, including those in the regions and prefectures, to assess its overall performance and develop insights on its improvement. We analyzed past surveillance data in Japan and conducted questionnaire surveys for the officers in 11 regional branches of the Ministry of Environment and the nature conservation divisions of 47 prefectures to acquire details regarding those AI surveillance. We found that the early detection of HPAIV in wild birds was successfully achieved in only one of the five outbreak seasons during the 2008-2019 period in Japan, and the assessment of HPAIV infection had possibly not been adequate in the national surveillance system. In the winter season, AI surveillance in most prefectures were mainly conducted by means of passive surveillance through reported dead birds and active surveillance through collected waterbird feces. Conversely, less than half of the prefectures conducted bird monitoring, patrolling in migratory bird habitats, and AI antigen testing in rescued birds. In areas surrounding HPAI occurrence sites (<10 km), bird monitoring and patrolling efforts were enhanced. However, AI testing efforts in waterbird feces and rescued birds were decreased. The AI surveillance for endangered bird species and in national wildlife protection areas was conducted by the branches of the Ministry of Environment and by the prefectures. Based on our results, we concluded that for maximum efficiency, legislation which specialized in wildlife pathogens should be necessary to prepare adequate national budget and testing capacity for appropriate surveillance system with periodical assessment for surveillance results and the system.
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