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Starting in April, samples from 75,000 to 100,000 birds will be tested for the virus, mainly in Alaska, as part of a joint effort of the departments of Agriculture and Interior, along with state Fish & Wildlife agencies. That's a jump from the 12,000 birds tested since 1996, the USDA's Angela Harless says. (Related item: Graphic: Migratory path of birds)
The expanded program, which will include birds in the Pacific islands and on the West Coast, reflects growing concern that the virus, highly pathogenic A (H5N1), which has spread across Asia and Europe, could arrive in North America as soon as this spring and be carried into the western continental USA by fall.