Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Joseph J. Jen announced that USDA will contribute $5 million to establish a research and education project to help prevent and control avian influenza. The multidisciplinary team of researchers and extension specialists represent 17 states and will be led by the University of Maryland.

"This grant integrates critical research, education, and extension activities that will lead to the improved prevention and control of Avian influenza, a disease that continues to threaten the commercial poultry industry and has caused millions of dollars in losses in the past few year. This grant will bring together a group of the most prominent experts in avian influenza to improve the control of this disease in the United States," Jen said.

Over $130 million in losses were sustained in an avian influenza outbreak in Virginia in 2002. In early 2004, there were detections of avian influenza in the eastern United States and in Texas, which required rapid control efforts.

The grant will link to, and leverage with, the recently funded Department of Homeland Security "National Center For Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense," which includes work on four diseases that could possibly be transferred to humans, including Avian Influenza.

Funding for the research was provided by USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), an extramural research, education, and extension funding agency. This award, made through the National Research Initiative, is the largest for a single animal health disease or zoonotic threat made by the agency.

Source: USDA Release