|Asian Bird Flu|
The Asian Bird Flu
By the Respiratory Diseases Committee of the American Association of Avian Pathologists. Used with permission.
What is "Asian Bird Flu"?
"Asian Bird Flu" is the name commonly used in the media to describe a deadly form of avian influenza virus that is currently causing a serious outbreak in multiple Asian countries. This Asian strain of avian influenza is also known as H5N1 avian influenza virus and is a type of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) that causes a severe disease in poultry. The Asian Bird Flu is unusual because it is extremely deadly for poultry, it has spread to many different countries in
Avian influenza in humans
We normally do not consider avian influenza to be a virus that can spread from birds to people (a zoonotic infection), but the Asian Bird Flu virus has resulted in the infection of over 100 people in Southeast Asia, primarily in Thailand and Vietnam. Almost all of the infected people have had close, direct contact with live poultry infected with Asian Bird Flu. Most poultry in
Controlling the spread of Asian Bird Flu in
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus is a particularly infectious disease in poultry, but in the past many outbreaks have been completely controlled through the close interaction of government officials and the poultry industry. The current situation in
Can I get avian influenza from eating or handling poultry products?
There is no danger of acquiring Asian Bird Flu from properly cooked poultry or poultry products. Avian influenza virus is easily destroyed by the heat of normal cooking. Additionally, infected or even suspect poultry would not be sold in the
Preventing the Introduction of Asian Bird Flu into the
Considerable effort has been made to both prevent the introduction of Asian Bird Flu into the
The importation of birds or bird products from the affected area has been banned or placed under strict control by the
Movement by Wild Birds
One of the unique features of the Asian Bird Flu is that wild birds can be infected, and increasing evidence suggests that they can spread the virus within and between countries. Control of wild bird movements, particularly migrating birds, is not possible. There exists some overlap of migrating birds from the infected countries and North American birds, but the risk of movement of the virus by this route is not known. Surveillance programs to test wild birds for Asian Bird Flu are ongoing and increasing to provide an early warning system whether wild birds pose a risk to the
Purposeful or Agroterrorist Introduction
The purposeful introduction of animal diseases remains a threat to our agricultural industry. Efforts for rapid detection and eradication, as outlined below, are one of our primary ways to mitigate any disease outbreak.
Human Infection and Spread
If Asian Bird Flu starts to infect large numbers of humans, then humans may pose a threat to infecting our poultry flocks with the virus. This scenario is unlikely at this time because the virus is poorly transmitted between people.
Current or Future Response Plans for Asian Bird Flu in the
Monitoring and surveillance for avian influenza, including Asian Bird Flu, is performed constantly at many different levels within the poultry industry. Diagnostic testing is performed by state and federal government (USDA-APHIS), and private laboratories. Many of these laboratories participate in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which provides testing for foreign animal diseases throughout the
Additionally, the modern type of animal production used in the
Preparedness is the key to a successful response to Asian Bird Flu or any other foreign animal disease in poultry. The USDA has recently invested in implementing improved rapid diagnostics for avian influenza, provided multiple training courses on diagnostics and control of avian influenza, and they have developed a vaccine bank to allow vaccination to be a control method if needed. Additional research and training are still required to adequately prepare for future outbreaks.