A chicken infected with low pathogenic avian influenza. Photo courtesy of Dr. Nathaniel Tablante
The December 2014 to June 2015 avian influenza outbreak was the largest animal health emergency in U.S. history. The virus contributed to the death of more than 48 million birds, either due to infection with the virus or depopulation to prevent additional spread. The virus was introduced into the U.S. by wild migratory waterfowl and then spread from farm to farm in a number of ways. This included farms sharing equipment, vehicles moving between farms without being cleaned or disinfected, employees moving between infected and non-infected farms, rodents and small wild birds reported inside some poultry houses, and feed stored outside or without appropriate biosecurity measures. The virus spread was also assisted by instances of noncompliance with industry-recommended biosecurity practices.
Fortunately, avian influenza poses little threat to human health and food safety. Human infections with avian influenza are rare and most often occur after direct contact with an infected bird. Avian influenza does, however, adversely affect food availability and the economy. If a single bird became infected with the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus during the 2014-15 outbreak, every bird in the same commercial poultry house – which contains an average of 30,000 birds – was depopulated. Read more »
Chickens grazing on a pasture.
Earlier this year, we experienced this country’s largest outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, affecting more than 200 commercial and backyard poultry flocks. While there have been no new cases since mid-June, we ask that all poultry owners stay alert and be vigilant. This virus can be carried by wild waterfowl (who do not get sick from it). The fall migration is underway, so these migratory ducks, geese and other birds have the potential to bring the virus with them anywhere in the country. It doesn’t mean they will – but they could. So if you own or handle poultry, it is essential to follow good biosecurity practices at all times.
What is biosecurity? Biosecurity means taking some simple steps to keep your birds away from germs AND germs away from your birds. If you follow good biosecurity, you will help ensure your birds remain healthy. As part of good biosecurity, you should prevent contact between your birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through the state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number: 1-866-536-7593. Read more »
Today I had a press call with our USDA partner, Dr. Alicia Fry from CDC and Dr. David Swayne of USDA’s Southeast Poultry Research Lab to help get out some important information about the avian influenza event currently occurring in the United States.
Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 in the Pacific, Central and Mississippi Flyways (migratory paths for birds). The disease has been found in wild birds, as well as in some backyard and commercial poultry flocks. Read more »
Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed several cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 in the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi flyways (or migratory bird paths). The disease has been found in wild birds, as well as in a few backyard and commercial poultry flocks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections to be low. No human cases of these HPAI H5 viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally.
Anyone who owns or works with poultry—whether on a commercial farm, in the wild, or at a hobby/backyard farm—should take proper steps to keep HPAI from spreading. The best way to protect your birds is to follow good biosecurity. Even if you are already familiar with biosecurity, now is a good time to double-check your practices. You are the best protection your birds have! Read more »
Dr. Wood on set with Healthy Harry taping new biosecurity videos.
Since December 2014, there have been several highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) confirmations in migratory wild birds, back yard flocks, captive wild birds and commercial poultry in several states along the Pacific, Mississippi and Central Flyways. These HPAI virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick. In fact, if back yard poultry flocks are exposed to these particular HPAI virus strains, they are highly contagious and cause bird death. We are expecting that there will be more HPAI confirmations this spring as the bird migrations continue, so if you own or handle poultry, now is a great time to check your biosecurity practices. You should follow good biosecurity at all times to help protect the birds’ health. Your actions can make a difference! Learn more here: http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov
As part of good biosecurity, you should prevent contact between your birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through the state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number: 1-866-536-7593. You also should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds. You are the best protection your birds have! Learn more here: http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov Read more »
People all over the country are raising backyard poultry these days. Some raise birds to have a steady supply of fresh eggs, some as part of their commitment to eating locally, some to sell eggs to their friends and neighbors at the local farmers market. Read more »