how to detect bird flu in chickens

With bird flu affecting more than 58 million commercial poultry and backyard flocks in the U.S., it’s been a cause for concern for urban and commercial farmers alike. Fortunately, simple, inexpensive practices can be very effective at keeping this serious disease away from your birds.

Now is the time to review your preventative measures to keep your birds healthy, especially if you have a commercial farm or a chicken coop.

Use our complete guide to help you with everything related to bird flu – what it is, how it spreads, how to identify bird flu symptoms in chickens and, most importantly, how to prevent bird flu from getting to your flock.

What Is Bird Flu?

While the bird flu virus has been circulating among birds and poultry in different parts of the world for many years, the deadly strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) or H5N1 has been making recent headlines for destroying flocks and raising the price of eggs.

If you’re curious about what’s killing commercial poultry in the United States or harming your flock, S. , the culprit is highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is rapidly fatal for poultry. With the exception of ducks and geese, all poultry frequently experience sudden onset HPAI and high death rates.

The respiratory (gasping) and digestive (severe diarrhea) symptoms of HPAI in chickens are frequently followed by a swift demise. Chickens may have swelling around the head, neck, and eyes. The heads and legs may also have purple discoloration.

Turkeys and other poultry species may experience nervous symptoms like:

  • Tremors
  • Twisted necks
  • Paralyzed wings
  • Laying down and pedaling

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports confirmed cases of HPAI. HPAI has occurred in wild waterfowl, backyard poultry and commercial poultry flocks. See the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website for up-to-date information on HPAI detection in the U.S.

Because infected birds do not reach the market, there is very little risk to the public and no concerns about food safety. Usually, only those who come into close contact with afflicted birds are at risk of infection.

Always properly handle poultry and eggs and cook to an internal temperature of 165 F. Don’t eat birds that appear sick or have died for reasons unknown. For more food safety information read Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Minnesota.

Stopping the spread of HPAI

Birds are euthanized on farms confirmed with HPAI. A 6-mile radius around a confirmed case will see flocks tested for HPAI. These flocks will also be checked throughout the outbreak. Euthanasia will only occur on-premises with infected birds. If your flock is put to sleep under the care of the USDA or the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, you will receive financial compensation.

Detecting HPAI early is key to limiting the spread. Sadly, unexpected, unexplained death is one of the early indicators of HPAI. In the majority of HPAI cases, the poultry died for unknown reasons after consuming less water.

  • Egg layers may be quieter than usual, have ruffled feathers, and exhibit depressive symptoms. Other signs may include purple or dry combs.
  • Turkeys may exhibit quiet, melancholy behavior, lay down more frequently than usual, and swell around their eyes.
  • Although they don’t always die from HPAI or exhibit symptoms, waterfowl can harbor the virus and infect other birds.


How do you tell if your chickens have bird flu?

Some of the signs for avian influenza include eating less, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, reduce egg production, lack of energy, swelling around the face, purple discoloration around the face, lack of coordination, diarrhea, muscle tremors, drooping wings, twisting of the head and neck, and inability to move.

Can chickens survive bird flu?

Avian influenza, or “bird flu,” is a respiratory disease of birds caused by influenza A viruses. Wild birds, such as ducks, gulls, and shorebirds, can carry and spread these viruses but may show no signs of illness. However, avian influenza can kill domestic poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese).

What to do if you suspect avian flu in chickens?

Report avian influenza immediately Immediately report suspected cases of HPAI in any bird, or of H5 or H7 LPAI in poultry, to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the applicable state animal health official(s).

Can you eat eggs from chickens with bird flu?

The company said there is no known bird flu risk associated with eggs that are currently on the market and no eggs have been recalled. Eggs that are properly handled and cooked are safe to eat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.