Avian influenza

Avian influenza detection

Sampling swabs and transport media for detection of avian influenza in birds

Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that occurs primarily in poultry and wild water birds. 

The virus easily and quickly spreads through poultry flocks that it has created across 2021/2022 what has been the largest HPAI epidemic observed in Europe so far in terms of poultry outbreaks, number of dead birds and geographical spread. 

For this reason, the implementation of stringent biosecurity measures in farms is essential. 

Successful detection of avian influenza (AI) virus using PCR is dependent upon the quality of the sample and proper storage and handling prior to testing. The sample type will also depend on the type of birds that are being tested; oropharyngeal swabs from gallinaceous poultry and cloacal swabs from waterfowl are the preferred specimens for most diagnostic tests, although it is optimal to collect swabs from both locations, where possible. In addition to collecting the appropriate sample, selecting the right materials for sample collection and transport is very important. 

The USDA-APHIS published Avian Sample Collection for Influenza A and Newcastle Disease1 (January 3, 2023) the use of Brain Heart Infusion Broth is recommended. Other acceptable viral transport media (VTM) cited in the recommendations include any salt-balanced, buffered media with a protein component such as tris-buffered tryptose broth (TBTB), nutrient broth (NB), and peptone broth (PB); or commercially available media, e.g. PrimeStore MTM (currently for Wildlife Services wild bird surveillance). Swabs used for sample collection should be synthetic or semi-synthetic swabs (e.g., polyester, rayon, nylon) with a plastic handle (flocked or spun head). 

In Europe the Istituto Zooprfilattico Sperimentale Delle Venezie European Union Reference Laboratory for Avian influenza guidelines and minimum requirements for diagnosis of AI (and Newcastle Disease) references the diagnostic procedures developed according to the Diagnostic Manual for Avian Influenza (2006/437/EC) which also states that BHI Broth with antibiotics should be used for the transport of samples collected for testing.

Thermo Fisher can support poultry operators with products recommended for avian influenza screening of birds in the USA: View PDF As well as in Europe: View PDF 

Click on the links in the table for further information about products for avian influenza sample collection & transport.

Alternatively, in the US, some of these products may be ordered on-line by visiting fisherscientific.com  and typing the order code into the search bar.


Product descriptionFormatFormatOrder code
Thermo Scientific™ Disposable Sampling SwabsDisposable Sampling Swabs,100 mm breakpoint 100 swabsR12544
(only available from fisherscientific.com, US)
Disposable Sampling Swabs, 80 mm breakpoint100 swabsR12680
(only available from fisherscientific.com, US)
Polyester Tipped Swabs, no breakpoint1,000 swabsR12548
Thermo Scientific™ Transport MediaBrain Heart Infusion (BHI) Broth100 x 5 mLR060270
50 x 9 mL TV5090E
PrimeStore™ MTMPrimeStore MTM Collection (1 mL)50 x 2 mL tube with 1 mL fillR13902
PrimeStore MTM Collection (1.5 mL)50 x 3 mL tube with 1.5 mL fillR13903
PrimeStore MTM Collection (1.5 mL)50 x 5 mL tube with 1.5 mL fillR13905
PrimeStore MTM Collection (2 mL)50 x 12 mL tube with 2 mL fillR13907

To support the poultry industry at this difficult time Thermo Fisher is currently offering highly discounted prices. Contact your local representative to discuss.

Request pricing information

For information about testing for other targets important to the food production and manufacturing industry visit thermofisher.com/food-microbiology-testing


1. Avian Sample collection for Influenza A and NewCastle Disease. January 3, 2023. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/lab_info_services/downloads/WIAV0020.pdf