The Risk of Highly Pathogenic Influenza A Virus Transmission to Turkey Hen Flocks through Artificial Insemination

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Artificial insemination is a routine practice for turkeys that can introduce pathogens into breeder flocks in a variety of ways. In this manuscript, a risk analysis on the potential transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) to naïve hens through artificial insemination is presented. A case of HPAI on a stud farm where the potential transmission of the virus to susceptible hens in the 2015 H5N2 HPAI outbreak in Minnesota is described along with documentation of known and potential transmission pathways from the case. The pathways by which artificial insemination might result in the spread of HPAI to susceptible hens were determined by considering which could result in the 1) entry of HPAI virus onto a premises through semen movement; and 2) exposure of susceptible hens to HPAI as a result of this movement. In the reported case, HPAI virus was detected in semen from infected toms, however, transmission of HPAI to naïve hens through semen is unclear since the in utero infectious dose is not known. This means that the early detection of infection might limit but not eliminate the risk of hen exposure. Because of the numerous potential pathways of spread and the close contact with the birds, it is highly likely that if semen from an HPAI-infected tom flock is used, there will be spread of the virus to naïve hens through insemination. If insemination occurs with semen from stud farms in an HPAI control area, receiving hen farms should have restricted movements to prevent outbreak spread in the event that they become infected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-309
Number of pages7
JournalAvian diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the invaluable historical insights on artificial insemination of turkey breeders provided in conversations with Rick Vanderspek and Ted Huisinga. We were funded by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Tactical Biosecurity grant 2020-68014-30974 (The Secure Food System: a cross-commodity platform for preserving business continuity for agriculture during disease emergencies) and from a cooperative agreement between the Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health (CEAH) of the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services (VS) and the University of Minnesota (UMN) as USDA Award number AP19VSCEAH00C012 (Quantitative Analysis to Manage Animal Disease Emergencies and Support Risk-based Decision Making). C. C. is also funded by the B.S. Pomeroy Chair in Avian Health at the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Association of Avian Pathologists. All rights reserved.


  • artificial insemination
  • breeders
  • highly pathogenic avian influenza
  • risk assessment
  • semen
  • transmission pathways
  • turkeys

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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