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Avian Influenza Outbreak: Ought to You Take Down Your Chook Feeders?


    Initially revealed April 20, 2022. Up to date October 7, 2022.

    Many individuals are involved in regards to the 2022 outbreak of avian influenza, or chicken flu, that affects home poultry, waterfowl, raptors, and a few shorebirds within the U.S. and Canada. As a result of the present pressure (H5N1) causes heavy losses to poultry, it’s known as extremely pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI. Word that transmission of avian influenza from birds to people could be very uncommon, based on the Facilities for Illness Management. As of October 7, one particular person has examined constructive for avian influenza and developed delicate signs, in Colorado in April 2022.

    There was confusion about whether or not folks ought to take down their feeders to cease the unfold of this illness amongst wild birds. We checked with Dr. Julianna Lenoch, who directs the USDA APHIS Nationwide Wildlife Illness Program, and we’ve compiled the next summaries of key factors relating to HPAI, particularly amongst songbirds and different feeder guests.

    Low Danger of Avian Flu to Songbirds

    There may be at present very low threat of an outbreak amongst wild songbirds, and no official suggestion to take down feeders until you additionally preserve home poultry, based on the Nationwide Wildlife Illness Program. We do at all times suggest that you simply clear chicken feeders and birdbaths recurrently as a approach to preserve many sorts of ailments at bay.

    We additionally at all times suggest that you simply comply with any suggestions put out by your state authorities, such because the current request to take down feeders in Illinois. We are going to replace this web page because the scenario develops.

    How do we all know songbirds are at low threat?

    • USDA APHIS has a robust, multiyear surveillance program that routinely samples wild birds, together with flocks of songbirds (and different species corresponding to Rock Pigeons and Mourning Doves which can be typically round people), for the presence of avian influenza. To date in 2022, they’ve detected the HPAI pressure in 2,746 wild birds, with 53 detections in songbirds (see under for an inventory of species). Newest data in regards to the outbreak.
    • Avian influenza doesn’t have an effect on all kinds of birds equally. The “extremely pathogenic” a part of the time period HPAI refers particularly to the severity of the illness in poultry, not essentially in different chicken species. For instance, waterfowl typically carry and transmit chicken flu, however hardly ever get sick from the illness (even from HPAI strains). Raptors are far more delicate to the illness than waterfowl. Home poultry are extraordinarily prone to HPAI and unfold the illness simply, resulting in as much as 100% mortality of affected flocks.
    • Songbirds are a lot much less probably than waterfowl to contract avian influenza and fewer more likely to shed massive quantities of virus, which means they don’t transmit the illness simply. (See Shriner and Root 2020 for an in depth evaluate within the journal Viruses.)
    • In accordance with a separate examine within the Journal of Wildlife Illnesses, “…though passerines and terrestrial wild birds could have a restricted position within the epidemiology of IAV [avian influenza A viruses] when related to contaminated home poultry or different aberrant hosts, there isn’t a proof supporting their involvement as pure reservoirs for IAV.” (Slusher et al. 2014)
    • For these causes, it’s unlikely that chicken feeders will contribute to an outbreak amongst songbirds.

    If songbirds are at low threat, why are individuals who preserve poultry suggested to take down their chicken feeders?

    • The primary concern with songbirds is the possibility {that a} uncommon particular person may transmit an an infection to poultry. It is a concern as a result of poultry are a lot extra susceptible than songbirds to HPAI.
    • The important thing intervention is to maintain songbirds away from poultry; it’s much less necessary to maintain songbirds away from one another.
    • When you have a yard poultry flock, these are an important steps to take:
      (click on for full data on these biosecurity measures from USDA APHIS)
    • As a secondary measure, USDA APHIS recommends for poultry homeowners to take down wild chicken feeders or preserve them nicely away from their captive flock

    If you happen to preserve nest bins:

    Avian influenza is simply hardly ever transmitted to people, based on the USDA, however nonetheless our NestWatch venture at all times advises good hygiene and extremely recommends that folks put on disposable gloves and/or wash their palms completely after checking nest bins. Most birds that use nest bins are songbirds, that are at low threat for contracting or transmitting avian influenza. If you happen to monitor waterfowl or raptor nests (e.g., Wooden Duck, Frequent Merganser, Canada Goose, American Kestrel, Barred Owl), we propose you put on gloves, change or wash gloves and disinfect tools between nest bins, put on a masks when cleansing out nest bins, and alter garments and footwear earlier than visiting any home poultry.

    In case you are a wildlife rehabilitator:

    Wildlife rehabilitators ought to take precautions when accepting sick birds in order that they don’t inadvertently introduce HPAI to the remainder of their sufferers. Right here’s additional steering for rehabbers, from USDA APHIS. Rehabbers in New York State are additionally inspired to contact the Cornell Wildlife Well being Lab for extra data.

    What to do should you discover a sick or lifeless chicken:

    Keep away from dealing with sick or lifeless birds. As a substitute, name your state wildlife well being company; they’ll decide reason for dying and ship the chicken to the suitable lab for testing. Moreover, preserve pets (together with pet birds) away from sick or lifeless wild birds.

    Extra Assets:

    Wild chicken species with HPAI detections in 2022

    Up to date September 22, 2022. Complete variety of detections in wild birds: 2,746. Detections in songbirds: 53. See 2022 Detections of Extremely Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Wild Birds for contemporary detections.


    American Crow (31 whole: 1, California; 1, Massachusetts; 1, Michigan; 2, Minnesota; 19, North Dakota; 1, Washington; 6, Wisconsin)
    American Robin (1, North Dakota)
    Black-billed Magpie (3, Wyoming)
    Frequent Grackle (1, Montana)
    Frequent Raven (13 whole: 9, Alaska; 1, Minnesota; 1, Montana; 1, Washington; 1, Wisconsin)
    Darkish-eyed Junco (1, Minnesota)
    Fish Crow (1, New York)
    Crimson-winged Blackbird (1, Michigan)
    Tree Swallow (1, Alaska)


    American Black Duck
    American Kestrel
    American White Pelican
    American Wigeon
    Arctic Tern
    Bald Eagle
    Barred Owl
    Black Skimmer
    Black Vulture
    Black-legged Kittiwake
    Blue-winged Teal
    Broad-winged Hawk
    Brown Pelican
    California Gull
    Canada Goose
    Caspian Tern
    Cinnamon Teal
    Frequent Eider
    Frequent Goldeneye
    Frequent Loon
    Frequent Tern
    Cooper’s Hawk
    Cormorant sp.
    Crested Caracara
    Double-crested Cormorant
    Duck sp.
    Eared Grebe
    Japanese Screech-Owl
    Glaucous Gull
    Nice Black-backed Gull
    Nice Blue Heron
    Nice Egret
    Nice Horned Owl
    Higher White-fronted Goose
    Inexperienced-winged Teal
    Gull sp.
    Harris’s Hawk
    Hawk sp.
    Heron sp.
    Herring Gull
    Hooded Merganser
    Horned Grebe
    Laughing Gull
    Lesser Scaup
    Merganser sp.
    Muscovy Duck
    Mute Swan
    Neotropic Cormorant
    Northern Gannet
    Northern Harrier
    Northern Pintail
    Northern Shoveler
    Owl sp.
    Parasitic Jaeger
    Peregrine Falcon
    Pheasant sp.
    Crimson-necked Grebe
    Crimson-shouldered Hawk
    Crimson-tailed Hawk
    Ring-billed Gull
    Ring-necked Duck
    Ross’s Goose
    Tough-legged Hawk
    Royal Tern
    Ruddy Duck
    Sabine’s Gull
    Sandhill Crane
    Sharp-shinned Hawk
    Brief-billed Gull
    Snow Goose
    Snowy Egret
    Snowy Owl
    Swainson’s Hawk
    Trumpeter Swan
    Tundra Swan
    Turkey Vulture
    Western Screech-Owl
    Wild Turkey
    Wooden Duck
    Wooden Stork