Avian influenza also called ‘bird flu’ is a disease that affects primarily birds, caused by a virus of the Orthomyxoviridae family. It was first identified in 1997 in Hong Kong, where it caused 18 human cases and 6 fatalities. Controlling the spread of Avian Influenza in Asian countries has led to the destruction or death of more than 150 million chickens, with $10 billion in economic losses.
These Type A viruses occur among wild aquatic birds but domestic poultry and other birds and animal species can become infected. The virus H5NI1 is pathogenic and continues to evolve and spread among avian species. When wild birds migrate, the transboundary Avian influenza disease travels along. Recently in December 2021, Israel had to cull half a million chickens and tens of thousands of turkeys are being destroyed due to the outbreak.
Some HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza) strains pose a threat to public health as they have the ability to infect humans. Direct or indirect exposure to surfaces contaminated by feces, infected environments, and animals are the main risk factor. Other general factors include globalization of food production and trade, environmental changes, human behavioural factors, and microbiological adaptation.
To prevent this virus from threatening the livelihood of livestock farmers and potentially impeding trade between countries, agricultural agencies have started to encourage producers to prevent wild birds and other wildlife from direct contact with their poultry. Other methods include avoiding the transport of wild bird secretions and material to poultry via feed, equipment, and boots.
Read more from our sources below!
CDC – Information on Avian Influenza
PAHO – Avian Influenza
USGS – Can wild birds spread avian influenza to domestic poultry?
BBC- Israel tries to contain avian flu outbreak after 5,000 wild cranes die