Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky
Avian influenza (AI)—also called flu, bird flu, influenza, and fowl plague—is caused by a virus. This illness can occur in most species of birds. Wild birds, most commonly waterfowl, can introduce the virus to domesticated flocks. The virus is released in secretions from the nostrils and in the manure of infected birds. Insects and rodents may carry the virus from infected to susceptible flocks. AI can also be spread as a result of improper disposal of dead birds and manure, and by contaminated shoes, clothing, crates, and other equipment. The AI virus can remain viable for long periods of time at moderate temperatures and can live indefinitely in frozen material.
The signs of AI vary depending on the type of virus involved. The AI viruses are typically categorized according to pathogenicity as mildly or highly pathogenic.
There is no effective treatment for AI.
Prevention requires establishment and enforcement of a rigorous biosecurity program.
NOTE If you suspect an outbreak of AI, even the mild form, you must report it to the state veterinarian's office.
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Avian influenza in poultry. J.P.Jacob, G.D. Butcher, F.B. Mather, and R.D. Miles, University of Florida.
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Taking biosecurity measures to limit you legal liability for the spread of avian influenza (University of Maryland)
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Bird flu - Identification and reporting, University of Kentucky
Bird flu - Considerations for pets and non-farm animals, University of Kentucky
Bird flu - Cleaning and disinfection, University of Kentucky
Bird flu - Biosecurity and Prevention, University of Kentucky
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