The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Incident Command Team, in collaboration with partner agencies, continues to develop and implement conservation strategies to help California condors as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) spreads on the landscape during fall migration season.
The Incident Command continues to collaborate with condor recovery partners to support release of vaccinated condors. Thus far, six vaccinated birds have been released across the range. In Arizona, The Peregrine Fund released the last rescued condor that survived an exposure to HPAI in the spring. Condor 757 had natural antibodies from the exposure but was provided a booster vaccination prior to being released earlier this week. Additionally, the Northern California Condor Restoration Program and the Service’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex in southern California have released a total of five vaccinated birds.
Additional releases are planned in southern California at Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge and in central California by Ventana Wildlife Society in the upcoming weeks, weather permitting. The condors were vaccinated by veterinarians licensed in the state according to approved site-specific plans.
No decision has been made on expanding vaccinations into the captively managed flock or free-flying birds. Wildlife biologists, veterinarians and experts are compiling information for recommendations on next steps.
California Condor Vaccination Trial (no change)
Final analysis for the samples from Group 1 for condors are complete. USDA’s Southeast Poultry Lab conducted hemagglutination inhibition tests on serum samples collected 42 days after the vaccination. The samples were evaluated for antibody titers that are commonly used as surrogate markers against influenza and other pathogens. Final analysis of Group 2 is pending.
Group 1 received a vaccination of 0.5ml on two occasions (initial injection and booster).
- Results show that 60% of the condors had titers that are expected to provide partial protection against mortality, while 10% of those birds had titers expected to provide protection against mortality.
Group 2 received a single 1 ml dose vaccine.
- 10 condors completed vaccine administration.
- 10 condors have completed the 42-day trial period.
Group 3 includes control birds. They will not receive vaccines, but blood samples were collected.
Additional hemagglutination inhibition tests are being conducted to provide a better understanding on the duration the birds may be protected and to what extend from the currently circulating strain of HPAI.