Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

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Avian Influenza commonly known as “bird flu” is a virus that infects wild birds (such as ducks, gulls, and shore birds) and domestic poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese). Avian Influenza is contagious among birds and the viruses can sicken and kill domesticated birds.  Avian influenza is classified in two categories: Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) which may produce no disease or low illness, and High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), which is usually deadly in chickens and turkeys.  Avian Influenza has been found in larger numbers in Asia and has recently spread into Europe, but in Connecticut only a small number of cases have been found. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the risk of Avian Influenza in humans is low, and antiviral drugs can be used to treat human infections, if needed.

As of March 2024, cases of the HPAI infections have been detected in cows on several dairy farms across several states.  Transmission occurred from cow to cow, but it was announced that a person in Texas who worked closely with the cows had also been infected.  Transmission to humans still remains low and if a human gets infected, symptoms are very mild.  Monitoring by public health officials will continue and the general public will be made aware of any increases in cases if they occur. Officials from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture said there were no cases reported in any cattle or other livestock in Connecticut. Additionally, Connecticut officials sought to stress that the state’s commercial milk supply was safe because of the pasteurization process required for interstate commerce.

For more general information, visit the:

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/avian-influenza/ai


According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Avian Influenza is not transmitted by eating poultry and eggs that are properly processed and cooked.  In addition to proper processing, proper handling and cooking of poultry provides protection from viruses and bacteria.  See a link to the USDA FAQs on Avian Influenza and food safety: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/avian-influenza-food-safety-qa.pdf


In an effort to prevent Avian Influenza involving Connecticut poultry, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture conducts surveillance testing of birds throughout the state. Commercial and non-commercial flock owners are participating in the Agriculture Department’s surveillance program. The Connecticut Agriculture Department has partnered with the Connecticut Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Connecticut to do low or no cost testing of birds for Avian Influenza. There are strict restrictions to prevent the spread of Avian Influenza in Connecticut.

Bird owners need to be aware and report if they suspect their birds may have died from an unknown cause and report it to the State Veterinarian. Signs of Avian Influenza in birds include depression, decreased appetite, and egg productivity changes, soft or misshapen eggs, and respiratory signs (coughing or sneezing).

Poultry owners can find more information about registering a flock and other frequently asked questions at the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s webpage: https://portal.ct.gov/DOAG/Regulatory/Regulatory/Avian-Influenza-Information


SOURCES: Connecticut Department of Agriculture; United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention