Avian Influenza

What is Avian Influenza?

Avian influenza (AI), a virus commonly known as the “bird flu,” affects birds and poultry. Caused by type A strains of the influenza virus, it is believed AI is transmitted through wild birds and waterfowl, either through direct contact with other birds or indirectly if the disease is carried onto a farm by humans, vehicles or other means.

Pathogenicity refers to the ability of the virus to produce disease. Low pathogenic (LPAI) commonly occurs in wild birds, and in most cases, it causes only minor illness or no symptoms at all in affected birds. Highly pathogenic (HPAI) spreads rapidly and is often fatal to chickens and turkeys. Both USDA  and CDC confirm that avian influenza is not a food safety issue or a public health risk. For more information visit AboutBirdFlu.com.

Farmer Perspective

Biosecurity and disease prevention have been priorities on America’s egg farms for decades. Egg farmers are well-prepared to prevent disease and have learned many lessons from previous outbreaks that have since been incorporated on their farms.

In biosecurity, egg farms are doing more to enhance already stringent programs. Identifying risks is the first crucial step to preventing disease spread, and biosecurity measures focus on these key areas:

  • Increase protocols for controlled movement of workers, birds, vehicles and equipment
  • Ensure feed and water are not at risk of virus contamination
  • Limit contact with domesticated and wild birds

UEP Position

UEP collaborates with the USDA, state agencies, veterinarians and public health officials to responsibly evaluate biosecurity and address the needs of the hens, farms, employees and local communications. UEP’s Biosecurity and Animal Health Committee provides resources and recommendations related to egg farms from the National Poultry Improvement Plan and the USDA APHIS Defend the Flock program.

UEP encourages all egg farmers to work with veterinarians and animal health experts to evaluate current biosecurity programs, consider new recommendations, and adjust based on new learnings. Farms and industry are working side-by-side with USDA as it considers new voluntary biosecurity programs and certifications.

Other Current Issues