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USDA Awards $5 Million for Avian Influenza Research and Extension

Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188
June 2, 2008

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2008 - USDA announced today its continuing commitment to avian influenza research by renewing the Avian Influenza Coordinated Agricultural Project (AICAP) with another $5 million for three years to the University of Maryland-College Park to study the prevention and control of the disease.

The USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) originally awarded the AICAP in 2005 to the University of Maryland (UMD) to establish a research and education project to help prevent and control avian influenza. The project was composed of a multidisciplinary team of researchers and extension specialists representing 17 states.

AICAP goals include epidemiology, basic research, diagnostics, vaccines and education. Since 2005, AICAP researchers and educators have:

  • assembled the first continent-wide network to study the ecological and biological characteristics of avian influenza viruses isolated from wild birds;
  • integrated research and education into a unique program available to a range of poultry producers;
  • shown that quail can change and expand the host range of avian influenza viruses, and found that quail respiratory and intestinal tracts have human-like sialic acid receptors that could partially explain the emergence of avian influenza strains with the capacity to infect humans;
  • developed a comprehensive program that has been delivered in 33 states and in Canada and Brazil to train producers and veterinarians on the depopulation and composting of flocks with avian influenza;
  • developed a testing component for rapid diagnosis of avian influenza in birds; and
  • developed promising vaccines for mass immunization of birds.

The institutions and researchers participating in AICAP are Virginia Tech, Auburn University, University of California-Davis, University of Delaware, University of Georgia, USDA-Agricultural Research Service-Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, Texas A&M University, Western University Health Sciences and University of Maryland-College Park.

CSREES' NRI program is the largest peer reviewed, competitive grant program at USDA for research, extension and education grants that address key problems of national, regional and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of agriculture.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.

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