Avian Influenza - What do you need to know?

Frequently Asked Questions about avian influenza

What is avian influenza?

Avian influenza is a disease caused by a virus that infects wild birds such as geese, ducks, swans and shorebirds, and domestic poultry, including turkeys, chickens, ducks, and geese. The avian influenza virus typically cycles in wild migratory waterfowl and causes little if any disease in those species. When it gets into domestic poultry it can cause catastrophic disease and loss.

How does avian influenza affect birds?

There are different strains of avian influenza. The current strain of avian influenza virus, H5N2 is considered to be highly pathogenic which means it causes serious illness and catastrophic death loss in poultry. H5N2 outbreaks will be easy to detect since it causes serious illness and catastrophic death loss in poultry.

Can I get sick from H5N2?

No human cases of H5N2 have been reported yet, in spite of there being many outbreaks in poultry.

Is it safe to eat eggs and poultry?

All meat and eggs from infected flocks will be destroyed and not enter the food chain (human or pets).

How is the virus killed?

The virus is easy to kill since cooking temperatures, sunlight, soap and water, and any disinfectant kill it.

How is the virus monitored?

There is and has been an active surveillance program in place to monitor for avian influenza virus infections both low and highly pathogenic in commercial poultry. The commercial poultry industry is doing all it can possibly do to prevent infections with this virus. A program also exists for wild waterfowl as well.

How do I keep my backyard poultry safe?

Small poultry flocks should be kept away from areas where wild migratory waterfowl frequent. Follow biosecurity practices when interacting with your flock.

What do I do if I suspect my flock has avian influenza?

If your backyard poultry flock has a high death loss or consistent pattern of death loss in a short period of time, report it to MDARD at 800-292-3939; (after hours) 517-373-0440. 

What if I suspect wild birds have avian influenza? 

Michigan residents who notice the death loss of three or more WILD birds should report it to DNR at 517-336-5030.