March 04, 2024

Avian influenza facts

Q&A: Chad Roy

NEW ORLEANS — Avian influenza continues to spread, affecting over 28 million birds in the United States so far.

Chad Roy, professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane School of Medicine, answered questions about the disease during a webinar hosted by AgriSafe Network.

Q: What’s the state of avian influenza?

A: Currently, avian flu outbreaks have expanded into more states across the U.S. in spring of 2022. The CDC and state departments of agriculture are monitoring the movement of this.

What’s important to remember is that the risk to human beings for avian influenza, even though it is impacting husbandry operations, is quite low.

The reason it is quite low is that this particular virus has not adapted to the human species to cause disease. Only in very rare occasions will this avian influenza cause disease in human beings.

There are a number of factors that have to fall into place for that to happen. But we still need to be aware that there is a risk.

Q: What is avian influenza?

A: Avian influenza is a viral disease that can affect bird species throughout the world. The disease can vary from mild to severe, depending on the virus strain involved.

Q: What are the signs of disease in a flock?

A: 1. Sudden death.

2. Lack of energy, appetite and coordination.

3. Purple discoloration and/or swelling of various body parts.

4. Diarrhea, nasal discharge and/or coughing.

5. Sneezing.

6. Reduced egg production and/or abnormal eggs.

Q: Can humans get the virus?

A: There is a low risk associated with human infection and high path avian influenza; however, this environment of infected birds in husbandry operations, and the potentially massive exposures, may increase the risk of infection in human beings.

Direct contact with infected animals puts one at a much higher risk of contracting this disease, as well as contaminated surfaces.

Q: Are poultry products safe?

A: Properly handling and cooking poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees kills bacteria and viruses, including bird flu viruses.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor