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Avian Influenza

Avian influenza is a highly contagious airborne respiratory virus that spreads quickly among birds through nasal and eye secretions and manure. The virus can be spread through interaction between wild birds and domestic birds, flock to flock, equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers. This virus affects poultry, such as chickens, ducks, turkeys, and wild bird species such as ducks, geese, shorebirds, and raptors.

Reporting Sick or Dead Farm Birds
If domestic poultry or other farm birds exhibit signs of avian influenza (ranging from sneezing, coughing and ruffled feathers to sudden and high numbers of bird losses), bird owners should consult their local veterinary professional and notify state or federal animal health officials.

Virginia poultry owners should report unusual poultry illnesses or deaths to the State Veterinarian’s Office at 804.692.0601 or at vastatevet@vdacs.virginia.gov or call the USDA’s toll-free at 866.536.7593.

Influenza Detections in Dairy Cattle

In February 2024, an unknown disease affecting dairy cattle causing a temporary decrease in milk production, reduced feed intake, and abnormal milk was identified in Texas. In late March, milking dairy cows with these signs tested positive for Bovine Influenza A Virus (BIAV), the same strain of the virus that causes Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in poultry. For more information on these detections, please visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/livestock-poultry-disease/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-detections/livestock.

Biosecurity is a key element to reducing the spread of disease. It is recommended that new additions to a cattle herd be separated for 21 days to allow any disease symptoms that they may be experiencing to resolve, and any viral shedding to decrease to a level where it is unlikely that the new additions will infect others. Cows with abnormal milk or are otherwise showing signs of illness should be milked last to minimize the chances that they will spread an infectious disease to other cows in the milking string.

Neither BIAF nor HPAI are food safety concerns. Milk and meat from sick cattle are prohibited from entering the food chain. Pasteurization effectively kills viruses and bacteria in milk, and proper food handling and cooking of meat to a safe internal temperature kills foodborne germs, including influenza A viruses.

Avian Influenza Information & Resources

Click here for Division of Animal and Food Industry Services contact information.

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