As part of its preparation for the possible return of avian influenza in poultry flocks this fall, the USDA is conducting surveillance of wild birds in 43 states.

Speaking during a USDA Radio News broadcast, Dr. Jack Shere, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) associate deputy administrator, said the agency is monitoring and testing wild birds “to get as early of an indication as possible of what we may be facing.”

Since December 19, 2014, APHIS has reported 223 detections of avian influenza, affecting more than 48 million birds. The agency’s last confirmed avian influenza case was reported on June 17. During that span of time, the virus was found in 21 states: Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, California, Indiana, Nevada, Kentucky, Michigan and New Mexico.

However, government officials and those in the poultry industry are anticipating a possible return of the virus in the fall as wild birds make their southward migration. Shere says they are keeping a particular eye on the states in the Atlantic flyway, where it has not yet been detected.

“We continue to do that testing as an early indicator of what we can expect to see in the area of high-path or low-path, if this virus should come south again with the birds,” said Shere.