Avian Flu Info

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is a deadly disease for poultry. It can infect all types of chickens, turkeys and many other kinds of birds. HPAI can strike suddenly and spread fast. Infected poultry may die within hours of becoming infected. The virus can be spread by contact with infected birds or contaminated materials. Wild migratory birds are natural carriers for HPAI. Preventing wild birds from mixing with domestic flocks is essential to disease control. Poultry owners should assure their birds are kept away from wild birds, particularly waterfowl. There are a few simple steps bird owners can take to try to protect their flocks from avian influenza.

The best prevention is to avoid sources of exposure

The best way to prevent avian influenza (bird flu) is to avoid sources of exposure whenever possible. Infected birds shed bird flu virus in their saliva, mucous and feces. People rarely get bird flu; however, human infections with bird flu viruses can happen when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled. This can happen when virus is in the air (in droplets or possibly dust) and a person breathes it in, or when a person touches something that has virus on it and then touches their mouth, eyes or nose. Bird flu infections in people happen most often after close, prolonged and unprotected (no gloves or other protective wear) contact with infected birds and then the person touches their mouth, eyes, or nose.

Protective actions around birds: What to do if you find a dead bird

  • As a general precaution, whenever possible people should avoid direct contact with wild birds and observe them only from a distance.
  • Wild birds can be infected with avian (bird) influenza (flu) A viruses even if they don’t look sick.
  • Avoid unprotected contact with domestic birds (poultry) that look sick or have died.
  • Do not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva, mucous or feces from wild or domestic birds.
  • The avian flu currently poses a low risk to humans, although people who frequently interact with birds may have a higher risk of infection, the CDC reported.
  • Any unexpected deaths in flocks or other signs of the flu should be reported immediately to the Massachusetts Division of Animal Health at 617-626-1795 or through their online reporting form.