Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed several cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 in the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi flyways (or migratory bird paths). The disease has been found in wild birds, as well as in a few backyard and commercial poultry flocks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections to be low. No human cases of these HPAI H5 viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally.
USDA has both an international and a domestic role in controlling the spread of avian influenza (AI) and reducing its effects on both agriculture and public health. USDA is aware of and prepared for the emergence of new types of AI virus. The nature of the influenza virus is such that mutations occur easily. Therefore, new strains can occur naturally at any time within avian hosts. The concern is whether the changes would impart the potential to cause severe disease or increase transmissibility between birds or mammals. Regardless of these changes, the USDA plans that are currently in place, which include surveillance, reporting, biosecurity, movement control, vaccination and depopulation, can be adjusted and applied to effectively control any new virus outbreak.
For an update on avian influenza findings, view the list of Current Highly Pathogenic H5 Avian Influenza Outbreaks.
This video discusses the National Poultry Improvement Plan and how it relates to backyard and hobby poultry owners. It features Healthy Harry, the healthy birds spokesbird, and USDA veterinarian Dr. Chrislyn Wood Nicholson. healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov.