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What is Bird Flu?

Posted on February 18, 2022
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Bird flu, also called avian flu, is a type of flu that spreads among birds. In this post, we talk about what bird flu is and how it affects humans.

How does flu spread in birds?
Bird flu occurs naturally in wild birds. When birds are used for eggs and meat and they live together in close quarters, bird flu can spread easily through saliva and feces. A common type of bird flu is H5N1.

Can bird flu spread to humans?
Yes, but it’s very rare. Most human infections with bird flu have occurred after unprotected contact with infected birds or surfaces contaminated with avian influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs can help treat avian flu in humans.

Which animals can get bird flu?

  • Chickens
  • Turkeys
  • Pheasants
  • Quail
  • Ducks
  • Geese

Can bird flu spread to humans through the food I eat?
No. As long as poultry and eggs are cooked to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F, the heat kills bacteria and viruses.

Does an annual flu vaccine prevent bird flu?
Because it’s rare for humans to become infected with bird flu, the flu viruses that infect birds are not included in annual flu vaccines. 

How can we prevent bird flu in backyard chickens?
1. Wear personal protective equipment, wash your hands, and keep surfaces clean
2. Separate your flock from wildlife and wild birds
3. Report any illness in your backyard chickens to your local or state health agency
4. Don’t panic. Most reported bird flu infections in people have happened after unprotected contact with infected birds or contaminated surfaces

Sources:
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/avian-in-humans.htm
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/avian-influenza/2022-hpai
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/avianflu/avian-flu-transmission.pdf
https://extension.umn.edu/poultry-health/avian-influenza-basics-urban-and-backyard-poultry-owners#prevent-spreading-disease-between-neighbors–825963

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