December 10, 2023

Extension Notebook: Bird flu is still a concern this fall

This article deals with the incidence of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza, which is still a problem in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Since February 2022, there have been many outbreaks that have occurred across the country. Here in Illinois, we have not had many outbreaks. However, there is still a need to keep an eye out for this disease.

Avian Influenza is a respiratory disease that affects all types of poultry and has even been shown to be a problem with other animals, as well. The virus is carried by migratory waterfowl, like ducks and geese. This time of year these birds are migrating to the Southern Hemisphere to spend the winter. They fly from the north along specific pathways. Here in Illinois, they use the Mississippi Flyway as the location for their migration. In the last month or so, there have been several outbreaks of HPAI, mainly in turkey flocks in Utah, South Dakota, and Minnesota. There has been one layer flock in Montana that has been affected by HPAI. A few small flocks have also been affected. Even though there have been no poultry affected recently in Illinois, that does not mean that poultry producers and small flock owners should be not be vigilant on following good biosecurity procedures.

Some of the recognized biosecurity measures is to watch out for migratory waterfowl near the location of your poultry. Also, make sure that the access area for a flock outdoors be kept clean. There is a whole list of other biosecurity items to follow, as well. Flock owners, managers or veterinarians should report any unusual findings in domestic poultry such as increase in mortality, decrease in water consumption, decrease in egg production, or respiratory signs including coughing and sneezing immediately to the Ilinois Department of Agriculture at 217-782-4944 or the USDA at 866-536-7593. For more information regarding Avian Flu including links to the USDA’s websites and biosecurity tips, visit IDOA’s website at Alerts and Important Animal Health Information — Animal Health and Welfare at

In a recent notice sent out from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Dr. Staci Slager, bureau chief with the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare in Springfield, mentioned the importance of being vigilant and keep an eye out for signs of this disease. She mentioned that there has been an increase of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza. She sent a notice about a link to the USDA HPAI Response page, at which you can view recent detections. She also sent a link to a very interesting website called BirdCast which offers the live bird migration map. Finally, she reminded producers and small flock owners to be vigilant on their biosecurity and contact us with any concerns.

The link for USDA’s APHIS High Pathogenic detections since February of 2022 is The link for BirdCast is

Ken W. Koelkebeck is professor emeritus, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois.