Frequently Asked Questions About Avian Influenza
Is there a risk for becoming infected with avian influenza by eating poultry?
There is no evidence that properly cooked poultry or eggs can be a source of infection for avian influenza virises.
We have a small flock of chickens. Is it safe to keep them?
Yes. In the United States there is no need at present to remove a flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian influenza. The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors potential infection of poultry and poultry products by avian influenza viruses and other infectious disease agents.
What precautions can be taken to reduce the risk for infection from wild birds in the United States?
As a general rule, the public should observe wildlife, including wild birds, from a distance. This protects you from possible exposure to pathogens and minimizes disturbance to the animal. Avoid touching wildlife. If there is contact with wildlife do not rub eyes, eat, drink, or smoke before washing hands with soap and water. Do not pick up diseased or dead wildlife. Contact your state, tribal, or federal natural resource agency if a sick or dead animal is found.
What animals can be infected with avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses?
In addition to humans and birds, we know that pigs, tigers, leopards, ferrets, and household cats can be infected with avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses. In addition, in early March 2006, Germany reported H5N1 infection in a stone marten (a weasel-like mammal). It's possible that other mammals may be susceptible to avian influenza A (H5N1) infection as well.
For more Frequently Asked Questions visit the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website.
Eating properly handled and cooked poultry is safe. Proper handling and cooking of poultry provides protection against HPAI, as it does against other viruses and bacteria, including Salmonella and E.coli. USDA continually reminds consumers to practice safe food handling and preparation every day:
Avian influenza is not transmitted through properly cooked food. To date, no evidence indicates that anyone has become infected following the consumption of properly cooked poultry or poultry products, even when these foods were contaminated with the H5N1 virus.
Import restrictions: As a primary safeguard, USDA maintains trade restrictions on the importation of poultry and poultry products from countries where the H5N1 HPAI strain has been detected in commercial or traditionally raised poultry, not in wild or migratory birds. Additionally, USDA has increased its monitoring of domestic commercial markets for illegally smuggled poultry and poultry products.
Quarantine: All imported live birds must be quarantined for 30 days at a USDA quarantine facility and tested for the avian influenza virus before entering the country. Home quarantine and testing for AI also is required for returning U.S.-origin pet birds.
Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization
International Food Safety Authorities Network
Animal Health & Welfare
World Organization for Animal Health
US Poultry & Egg Association
National Wildlife Health Center
Wildlife and Hunter Safety
Arizona Department of Agriculture
Alaska Department of Fish and Game- Wildlife Conservation