Avian influenza

Rooster being tested for avian flu
In this article:
  • Find answers to frequently asked questions about avian influenza.
  • Learn about methods to prevent the spread of avian influenza.
  • See reporting guidelines and procedures.

The USDA recommends six steps to help keep birds safe

  • Keep your distance
  • Keep it clean.
  • Don't haul disease home.
  • Don't borrow from your neighbor.
  • Know the signs.
  • Report sick birds.

Get details on the most recent U.S. bird flu outbreaks at usda.gov/AvianInfluenza

Avian influenza (AI) appears periodically all over the world, including in the United States. The virus spreads easily among wild aquatic birds, which are thought to be the natural hosts of avian influenza viruses. Certain strains also can infect domesticated birds (including chickens, turkeys, ducks, and—rarely—pet birds), humans (rarely), and a variety of other mammals.

Highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza virus (HPAI) can devastate entire flocks of poultry, result in major economic losses, and potentially infect people and other animal species. Highly pathogenic strains are highly contagious in poultry, and the birds often show clinical signs of illness.

Most outbreaks of avian influenza in the United States have been associated with low pathogenic strains of the virus (LPAI). These strains do not normally cause clinical signs of disease in waterfowl but may cause mild disease in poultry.

Outbreaks are resolved through the combined efforts of veterinarians, the poultry industry, and local, state, and federal governmental agencies.

Report avian influenza immediately

Veterinarians and bird owners should immediately contact their State Animal Health Official or call the USDA toll-free hotline (866-536-7593) to report sick birds, including backyard flocks and migratory birds like ducks and geese.