Information on bird flu (avian influenza)

Can people catch bird flu?

The risk of humans contracting avian flu is very low, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC). Scientists say bird flu does not spread easily from birds to humans and that “sustained transmission” from human to human has NOT occurred. Despite the fact that millions of birds have fallen ill and died, there are no recorded cases of “sustained transmission”.

In April 2022, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment discovered that an individual working on a poultry farm had tested positive for avian flu. It remains to be seen whether this person was actually infected or whether the positive result was due to exposure to the virus. No other human exposure is known to date.

What is the status of HPAI incidents in the United States?

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) monitors confirmed cases of the IAHP.

APHIS works closely with state animal health officials on joint incident responses. State officials have quarantined affected premises and birds on properties have been depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease.

Flocked birds will not enter the food system.

What are chicken farmers doing to prevent bird flu?

Avian flu is a serious problem that chicken farmers are watching closely with the USDA. The United States has the most robust tracking and surveillance program in the world – and detailed plans in place to minimize the spread among herds and completely eliminate the virus. All US herds are tested prior to processing for bird flu. Whether only one bird from a flock had to test positive for HPAI, then none of those birds would be allowed into the food supply.

Collectively, farmers, USDA and the poultry industry continue to monitor the virus closely and have intense surveillance and comprehensive biosecurity measures to protect flocks. Strict biosecurity practices on the farm are essential to prevent chickens from contracting bird flu.

See biosecurity practices in action and learn how farmers monitor the health of the chicken flock.

What happens in the event of an avian flu epidemic in a chicken farm?

In the event of an outbreak, the poultry industry has strict procedures and works directly with state and federal governments to identify and eliminate the problem and reduce the spread of disease.

When avian influenza is detected, the following 5-step response plan is implemented:

1. Quarantine

The rancher ensures that the affected herd and any nearby equipment remain in one area.

2. Eradicate

The affected herd is promptly and humanely euthanized using methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

3. Test

USDA protocols and testing requirements are followed to ensure the farm is free of bird flu before a new flock is allowed to arrive.

4. Disinfect

The affected farm is thoroughly disinfected to ensure that all traces of the virus are destroyed.

5. Monitor

Monitoring of wild birds in a large surrounding “control” area.

No chicken from flocks affected by bird flu is ever allowed to enter the food chain.

What can I do at home to make sure my chicken is safe from bird flu?

Avian flu is not a food-borne disease, which means you cannot get it from eating well-cooked poultry. And if a flock of chickens tests positive, it will not enter the food chain.

But as always, you must follow proper handling and cooking when preparing raw chicken. Get tips on safe food handling at chicken perch.

For more information on the bird flu vVisit the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Web page.

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