ca.gov

California Department of Food and Agriculture

Avian Influenza Updates


Top Stories


Secure Food Supply (SFS) Plans

Avian Influenza


Avian Influenza (AI), commonly called bird flu, is a disease found in some populations of wild water fowl that can infect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese and guinea fowl, as well as a wide variety of other domesticated and wild birds. Once AI is introduced into domestic avian populations, subsequent spread is normally caused by domestic bird-to-bird contact or through contact with contaminated people, feed or equipment rather than through secondary introductions from the wild reservoir.

Each year there is a flu season for birds (just as there is for humans) and, as with people, some forms of the flu are worse than others. AI viruses can be classified as either low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) or high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) based on the severity of the illness they cause in poultry. Most AI strains are classified as LPAI and cause few clinical signs in infected birds. In contrast, HPAI causes a severe illness with a high mortality rate among infected birds. Because some LPAI strains have the potential to genetically change into HPAI, authorities will depopulate flocks infected with those strains of LPAI before they have the potential to change to HPAI and cause severe mortality.

It is important that all commercial and non-commercial poultry owners maintain effective barriers to mitigate the risk of AI. Biosecurity tips to prevent contact between domestic poultry and wild avian species can be found here.


2016 Avian Influenza Incidents (More/Less)


Historical Avian Influenza Incidents (More/Less)


2015 California Avian Influenza Incidents (More/Less)

Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Commercial Turkey Flock in Merced County, CA

Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) was detected in a commercial turkey flock in Merced County, California on March 17, 2015. The turkey flock exhibited coughing and a slight increase in mortality. Samples were submitted for laboratory testing and confirmed positive for influenza A virus (IAV) H7N3 LPAI.

To date, the avian influenza strains detected within the United States, including the H7N3 strain, have not been found to be transmissible to humans. Properly cooked poultry and eggs are safe to eat. Birds from the involved flocks will not enter the food system.

CDFA and USDA have cooperatively activated an Incident Command Emergency Disease Response. The infected premises was placed under State Quarantine and an epidemiological investigation was initiated. Follow-up surveillance and testing on 10 epidemiologically associated farms was negative for IAV.

Surveillance and outreach efforts are in effect and will continue over the next week or so. To date, all testing on poultry in the area has been found to be negative for influenza A virus.

For more information, please visit: World Organisation for Animal Health Website (OIE)


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Commercial Poultry Flock (Broiler Chickens and Ducks) in Kings County, CA

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was detected in a commercial poultry operation that consists of broiler chickens and ducks in Kings County, California. The flock experienced increased mortality, and samples were submitted to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory for testing. The samples were then sent to the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratory for confirmation. On February 12, 2015, the infection was confirmed as influenza A virus subtype H5N8. The strain is compatible with EA-H5N8.

There is no immediate public health concern with this Avian Influenza Virus strain or the others that have been found in the Pacific Flyway since December 2014. Poultry and eggs that are cooked properly are still safe to consume.

CDFA and USDA have worked cooperatively to activate an Incident Command emergency disease response. Under veterinary supervision, depopulation of infected and exposed poultry on the property was completed, in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Inactivation of the virus and disposal of birds and litter was accomplished with in-house composting and confirmed with environmental virus isolation sampling.

Surveillance and testing on both commercial and non-commercial premises has been completed in both the Control Area and Surveillance Zone. All testing on poultry in the area has been negative for influenza A virus. The infected premises remains under quarantine, but the other commercial and non-commercial poultry locations in the control area have been released from quarantine.


Arkansas has implemented additional entry requirements

Arkansas has implemented additional entry requirements for live poultry and hatching eggs originating from California and entering Arkansas. For details, see the letter from the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission.


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Commercial Turkey Flock in Stanislaus County, CA

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was detected in a commercial turkey flock in Stanislaus County, California. The flock was reported to be experiencing high mortality rates, which reached over 50 percent isolated to one house. The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory identified avian influenza in samples from dead birds that were submitted by the company veterinarian on January 22, 2015. The infection was confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratory as influenza A virus subtype H5N8. The strain is compatible with EA-H5N8.

This particular strain is not considered a public health threat. Poultry and eggs that are cooked properly are safe to eat.

Under veterinary supervision, all the birds and their products were destroyed to prevent the spread of infection. Inactivation of the virus and disposal of birds and litter was accomplished with in-house composting and confirmed with negative environmental virus isolation sampling.

Surveillance and testing on both commercial and non-commercial premises has been completed in both the Control Area and Surveillance Zone. All testing on poultry in the area has been negative for influenza A virus. The infected premises remains under quarantine, but the other commercial and non-commercial poultry locations in the control area have been released from quarantine.


Avian Influenza Found in Wild Bird in Butte County, California

January 5, 2015: A confirmed positive Avian Influenza (AI) serotype H5N8 was found in a wild Gadwall in Butte County, California. The pathogenicity of the AI strain is still being confirmed, but the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) report it is consistent with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). The bird was collected as a part of enhanced surveillance by USDA Wildlife Services and is not a surprise due to given migratory patterns. This particular strain is not considered a public health threat.

Increased biosecurity and keeping birds housed away from open water sources that attract wild waterfowl is advised during this time. If you observe signs of illness or increased mortality, please call your private veterinarian, Sick Bird Hotline at 866-922-2473, CDFA District Office or USDA.



2014-2015 Midwest Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Outbreak (More/Less)


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Found in Mississippi Flyway and Central Flyway (Migratory Bird Pathways)

During the first week of March 2015, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N2 was detected in a commercial turkey flock in Pope County, Minnesota. This was the first finding in the Mississippi flyway and was found to match the strains of avian influenza that were found in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho as part of the ongoing incident in the Pacific flyway. The turkey flock was experiencing an increase in mortality. Samples were submitted for laboratory testing and confirmed positive for influenza A virus (IAV) H5N2 HPAI.

Less than a week later, two other HPAI H5N2 cases showed up in Jasper and Moniteau Counties, Missouri. This was shortly followed by a finding in Boone County, Arkansas. All of these involved commercial turkey flocks. The most recent incident confirmed on March 13, 2015 involved a backyard flock with mixed poultry (chickens and ducks) in Leavenworth County, Kansas. This was the first finding in the Central flyway and was also confirmed as an HPAI H5N2 case.

To date, the avian influenza strains detected within the United States, including the H5N2 strain, have not been found to be transmissible to humans. Properly cooked poultry and eggs are safe to eat. Birds from the involved flocks will not enter the food system.

Federal and State partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area. The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.

Remember that these virus strains can infect wild migratory waterfowl without apparent clinical signs in those birds. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at
http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.

For more information, please visit: USDA APHIS Avian Influenza Disease Website


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Found in a Small Backyard Poultry Flock in Oregon

December 24, 2014: Backyard birds were depopulated on Sunday, December 21, 2014. Cleaning and Disinfection (C&D) of the backyard premises was completed December 23, 2014.

December 19, 2014: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) serotype H5N8 has been diagnosed in a small backyard flock in Winston, Oregon. The flock has approximately 100 birds and consists of guinea fowl, chicken, geese, and ducks. The birds are free-ranging and had access to a pond on the property frequented by migratory waterfowl. The virus was isolated from the guinea fowl exhibiting increased mortality.

There is no immediate public health concern, as the H5N8 virus has been found in birds in other parts of the world and has not caused any human infection to date.

Preliminary analysis of this AI virus indicates it is very similar to the virus found last week in a Gyrfalcon in Washington State and to the H5N8 previously circulating in S. Korea. The finding of these HPAI cases in our neighboring states leads to increased concerns of infected waterfowl migrating south in the Pacific Flyway into CA.

Read more about the AI outbreak in Oregon at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/2014/SA_H5N8_Oregon.pdf


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Wild Birds in Washington State

December 30, 2014: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) serotype H5N2 was discovered in a backyard flock in Benton County, WA that was experiencing high mortality in approximately 100 turkeys and some chickens. The flock was kept outdoors. Depopulation is complete.

December 17, 2014: Two separate viral strains of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) serotype H5 have been identified in Whatcom County, WA.The first is HPAI H5N8 and was diagnosed in a captive Gyrfalcon. The falcons at this premises were fed harvested wild waterfowl. This AI strain is closely related to the H5N8 HPAI in South Korea and the H5N8 HPAI currently circulating in Europe. The second is HPAI H5N2 and this was confirmed in a Pintail duck near Lake Wiser, WA.

There is no immediate public health concern with either of these avian influenza viruses. Both H5N2 and H5N8 viruses have been found in other parts of the world and have not caused any human infection to date.

USDA-APHIS-VS preliminary data suggests that these viral strains may be related with the H5N8 strain potentially representing the progenitor. The finding of two HPAI cases in wild waterfowl leads to increased concerns of infected waterfowl migrating in the Pacific flyway on the West Coast.

Washington State, USDA, and other Federal partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing of birds in the nearby area.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind poultry owners to continue to practice good biosecurity and monitor the health of your birds. If you observe signs of illness or increased mortality, please call your private veterinarian or the Sick Bird Hotline at 866-922-2473.

Read more about the AI outbreak in Washington state at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/2014/SA_WA_avian_influenza.pdf


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in British Columbia, Canada

December 2014: Outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) serotype H5N2 have been reported by Canadian Authorities.

Updates: Current Information on HPAI in BC, Canada



More Information on Avian Influenza


  • To report an unusual number of sick/dead birds, call:
    Sick Bird Hotline
    866-922-BIRD (2473)