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Avian influenza refers to infection of birds with avian influenza Type A viruses. These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. Wild aquatic birds can be infected with avian influenza A viruses in their intestines and respiratory tract, but usually do not get sick. However, avian influenza A viruses are very contagious among birds and some of these viruses can sicken and even kill certain domesticated bird species including chickens, ducks, and turkeys.

Although avian influenza A viruses usually do not infect humans, rare cases of human infection with these viruses have been reported. Most human infections with avian influenza A viruses have occurred following direct or close contact with infected poultry. Illness in humans has ranged from mild to severe. The best way to prevent infection with avian influenza A viruses is to avoid sources of exposure. Most human infections with avian influenza A viruses have occurred following direct close or prolonged contact with sick or dead infected poultry.

In December 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 viruses in both domestic and wild birds in the United States. No human infections with these viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada or internationally at this time, however, similar viruses have infected people. It’s possible that human infections with these viruses may occur. While human infections are possible, infection with avian influenza viruses in general are rare and – when they occur – these viruses have not spread easily to other people. CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in U.S. birds and poultry to be low at this time.

 

More Information

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Avian Influenza - Nebraska-Specific Information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Information on Avian Influenza

Nebraska Department of Agriculture Avian Influenza

 

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