Protecting Your Flock from Avian Flu Outbreaks

Avian flu, or highly pathogenic avian influenza, is a family of viruses that have been known to humanity since 1878.[0] The H5N1 strain, which has been responsible for the recent outbreak of bird flu in the U.S., is highly contagious and can kill up to 100 birds within 48 hours.[1] The virus is thought to spread through contact with infected feces, water droplets, and contaminated surfaces.[2] The virus is particularly active during the colder months of the year, and is mostly spread by wild waterfowl, turkeys, and shorebirds.[1]

The bird flu outbreak in the U.S. is the worst in the nation’s history, with over 57 million birds dead across 47 states and egg prices rising due to the shortage of egg-laying hens.[3] The CDC warns that it is “primarily an animal health issue” and that people should take precautions when handling sick birds, such as wearing protective clothing and using soap and water.[4]

It is extremely unlikely that the virus will spread to humans, as there has only been one recorded case in the U.S., and the symptoms of the virus are mild and flu-like.[2] The best way to prevent avian flu from affecting your own flock of poultry is to quarantine any new birds for at least 30 days, as well as to avoid contact with any sick or dead birds.[5] Finally, cooking poultry meat properly ensures that any infected meat can’t spread the virus.[6]

0. “An ‘unprecedented pandemic of avian flu’ is wreaking havoc on the U.S. poultry industry. Humans may be at risk too, experts warn” Fortune, 23 Jan. 2023, https://fortune.com/well/2023/01/23/unprescendented-pandemic-avian-bird-flu-h5n1-us-united-states-poultry-industry-peril-humans-risk-spanish-flu/

1. “Worst bird flu in US history led to nearly 58 million poultry deaths” Interesting Engineering, 23 Jan. 2023, https://interestingengineering.com/health/devastating-bird-flu-no-slowing-down

2. “One Poultry Owner’s Experience with Avian Flu in Chickens, Geese, and other Poultry – Grit” Grit Magazine, 8 Dec. 2022, https://www.grit.com/animals/poultry/avian-flu-in-chickens-geese-poultry-zm0z23jfzawar/

3. “Egg-stra incentives: Backyard, free-range flocks fare well against avian flu, still face challenges” LubbockOnline.com, 21 Jan. 2023, https://www.lubbockonline.com/story/business/agricultural/2023/01/21/backyard-flocks-fare-well-against-avian-flu-salmonellas-still-a-risk/69819578007

4. “Editorial: This Is for the Birds” AllOTSEGO, 18 Jan. 2023, https://www.allotsego.com/editorial-this-is-for-the-birds

5. “WSJ: “Worst U.S. Avian Flu Outbreak” Persists, “There is No Historical Context for This”” Farm Policy News, 23 Jan. 2023, https://farmpolicynews.illinois.edu/2023/01/wsj-worst-u-s-avian-flu-outbreak-persists-there-is-no-historical-context-for-this/

6. “Bird Flu Surveillance Aims at Keeping Human Risk Low” University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, 20 Jan. 2023, https://news.cuanschutz.edu/news-stories/bird-flu-surveillance-aims-at-keeping-human-risk-low