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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Avian Influenza Outbreak 2022-2023: Ought to You Take Down Your Chook Feeders?

Initially printed April 20, 2022. Up to date January 5, 2023.

Many individuals are involved concerning the 2022-2023 outbreak of avian influenza, or hen 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. Be aware that transmission of avian influenza from birds to people could be very uncommon, based on the Facilities for Illness Management. Up to now, one individual within the U.S. has examined optimistic for avian influenza and developed delicate signs, in Colorado in April 2022.

There was confusion about whether or not individuals 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

Though there was widespread transmission of avian flu to wild hen species together with waterfowl and raptors, transmission to songbirds and different typical feeder guests has been low (lower than 2% of all instances reported in wild birds). Meaning there’s at the moment low danger of an outbreak amongst wild songbirds, and no official suggestion to take down feeders except you additionally preserve home poultry, based on the Nationwide Wildlife Illness Program. We do at all times suggest that you simply clear hen feeders and birdbaths repeatedly as a approach to preserve many sorts of illnesses at bay.

We additionally at all times suggest that you simply comply with any suggestions put out by your state authorities, even in instances the place that recommendation conflicts with ours. We’ll replace this web page because the scenario develops.

How do we all know songbirds are at low danger?

  • USDA APHIS has a robust, multiyear surveillance program that routinely samples wild birds, together with flocks of songbirds (and different species similar to Rock Pigeons and Mourning Doves which are typically round people), for the presence of avian influenza. Since January 2022 they’ve detected the HPAI pressure in 5,552 wild birds, with 63 detections in songbirds (see under for an inventory of species). Newest information concerning the outbreak.
  • Avian influenza doesn’t have an effect on all varieties 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 hen species. For instance, waterfowl typically carry and transmit hen flu, however not often get sick from the illness (even from HPAI strains). Raptors are way more delicate to the illness than waterfowl. Home poultry are extraordinarily vulnerable to HPAI and unfold the illness simply, resulting in as much as 100% mortality of affected flocks.
  • Songbirds are a lot much less doubtless than waterfowl to contract avian influenza and fewer more likely to shed massive quantities of virus, that means they don’t transmit the illness simply. (See Shriner and Root 2020 for an in depth assessment within the journal Viruses.)
  • In keeping with a separate examine within the Journal of Wildlife Ailments, “…though passerines and terrestrial wild birds might 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 any proof supporting their involvement as pure reservoirs for IAV.” (Slusher et al. 2014)
  • For these causes, it’s unlikely that hen feeders will contribute to an outbreak amongst songbirds.

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

  • The principle 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 weak than songbirds to HPAI.
  • The important thing intervention is to maintain songbirds away from poultry; it’s much less vital to maintain songbirds away from one another.
  • When you have a yard poultry flock, these are a very powerful steps to take:
    (click on for full information on these biosecurity measures from USDA APHIS)
  • As a secondary measure, USDA APHIS recommends for poultry homeowners to take down wild hen feeders or preserve them properly away from their captive flock

In the event you preserve nest containers:

Avian influenza is just not often transmitted to people, based on the USDA, however however our NestWatch challenge at all times advises good hygiene and extremely recommends that individuals put on disposable gloves and/or wash their arms completely after checking nest containers. Most birds that use nest containers are songbirds, that are at low danger for contracting or transmitting avian influenza. In the event you monitor waterfowl or raptor nests (e.g., Wooden Duck, Frequent Merganser, Canada Goose, American Kestrel, Barred Owl), we recommend you put on gloves, change or wash gloves and disinfect gear between nest containers, put on a masks when cleansing out nest containers, and alter garments and footwear earlier than visiting any home poultry.

If you’re 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 info.

What to do in the event you discover a sick or useless hen:

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

Further Assets:

Wild hen species with HPAI detections in 2022–2023

Up to date January 5, 2023. Whole variety of detections in wild birds: 5,552. Detections in songbirds: 75. See 2022–2023 Detections of Extremely Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Wild Birds for contemporary detections.


American Crow (35 whole: 1, California; 1, Massachusetts; 1, Michigan; 2, Minnesota; 1, New York; 19, North Dakota; 1, Oregon; 3, Washington; 6, Wisconsin)
American Robin (1, North Dakota)
Black-billed Magpie (3, Wyoming)
Boat-tailed Grackle (1, Florida)
Frequent Grackle (2 whole: 1, Arizona; 1, Montana)
Frequent Raven (21 whole: 12, Alaska; 5, California; 1,d Minnesota; 1, Montana; 1, Washington; 1, Wisconsin)
Darkish-eyed Junco (1, Minnesota)
Fish Crow (5 whole: 4, Florida; 1, New York)
Nice-tailed Grackle (3, Kansas)
Home Sparrow (1, Nebraska)
Crimson-winged Blackbird (1, Michigan)
Tree Swallow (1, Alaska)


American Black Duck
American Coot
American Kestrel
American White Pelican
American Wigeon
Arctic Tern
Bald Eagle
Barred Owl
Black Skimmer
Black Vulture
Black-crowned Evening-Heron
Black-legged Kittiwake
Blue-winged Teal
Bonaparte’s Gull
Broad-winged Hawk
Brown Pelican
Cackling Goose
California Gull
Canada Goose
Caspian Tern
Cinnamon Teal
Frequent Eider
Frequent Goldeneye
Frequent Loon
Frequent Merganser
Frequent Tern
Cooper’s Hawk
Cormorant sp.
Crested Caracara
Double-crested Cormorant
Duck sp.
Eared Grebe
Jap Screech-Owl
Forster’s Tern
Fulvous Whistling-Duck
Glaucous Gull
Shiny Ibis
Golden Eagle
Nice Black-backed Gull
Nice Blue Heron
Nice Egret
Nice Horned Owl
Larger White-fronted Goose
Inexperienced Heron
Inexperienced-winged Teal
Gull sp.
Harris’s Hawk
Hawk sp.
Heron sp.
Herring Gull
Hooded Merganser
Horned Grebe
Iceland Gull (Thayer’s)
Laughing Gull
Lesser Scaup
Merganser sp.
Muscovy Duck
Mute Swan
Neotropic Cormorant
Northern Fulmar
Northern Gannet
Northern Harrier
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Owl sp.
Parasitic Jaeger
Peregrine Falcon
Pheasant sp.
Pied-billed Grebe
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
Ruddy Turnstone
Ruffed Grouse
Sabine’s Gull
Sandhill Crane
Sandwich Tern
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Quick-billed Gull
Quick-eared Owl
Snow Goose
Snowy Egret
Snowy Owl
Snowy Plover
Swainson’s Hawk
Trumpeter Swan
Tundra Swan
Turkey Vulture
Western Gull
Western Screech-Owl
White Ibis
Wild Turkey
Wooden Duck
Wooden Stork

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