Avian Influenza in Wild Birds

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 1, 2022, 11:49

The sickness induced by the Type A virus is avian influenza. These viruses are found in wild birds that live in water or, simply put, aquatic worldwide and can cause infection in the domestic poultry and other birds and animals. Avian flu viruses are not known to infect humans in most cases. However, human infections with avian flu viruses have been reported on an infrequent basis.

Over the years, avian influenza has piqued the international community's interest, with outbreaks in poultry wreaking havoc on livelihoods and international trade in several countries. It is vital to monitor and control avian influenza at its source to limit the viral load insensitive bird species and the environment.

Biosecurity measures must be implemented per OIE international standards to protect the agricultural sector and trade, as well as to safeguard food security and farmers' livelihoods, and to reduce the danger of human infection with avian influenza viruses having zoonotic potential.

Different Types of Avian Influenza

Type A influenza viruses are classified into subgroups based on two proteins found on the virus's surface:

  • Hemagglutinin (HA) is divided into 16 subtypes (H1-H16), and
  • Neuraminidase (NA), which is divided into nine subtypes (N1-N9)
  • There are numerous HA and NA protein combinations that can be used (i.e., H5N1, H5N2, H7N2, H7N8, etc.).

Based on their potential to cause sickness in hens, AI viruses are divided into two groups: highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) (LPAI).

  • HPAI viruses cause severe mortality in poultry and, on rare occasions, in certain wild bird species.
  • In poultry, LPAI viruses can cause various symptoms, from no clinical signs to substantial mortality rates. In most cases, LPAI viruses do little to no harm.

Whether you have pet birds, commercial flocks, or just a few backyard birds, you must keep a constant eye on them for signs of disease and maintain proper biosecurity at all times. If you have any worries regarding your birds' health, consult your veterinarian right away.

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FAQs on Avian Influenza

Q.1) What is Avian Influenza?

Chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl are all susceptible to avian influenza (AI) caused by an influenza type A virus. Wild waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, as well as shorebirds, carry it.

Q.2) Can people also catch Avian Influenza?

Human cases of Avian Influenza are pretty uncommon. However, still, a few cases have been reported. The risk of HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks, and commercial poultry to the general people is considered minimal by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

No humans or other mammals have developed symptoms from the HPAI viruses identified in North America. Still, field personnel handling live or dead wild birds should take measures, including wearing protective clothing while handling sick or potentially infectious wildlife or carcasses.

Q.3) Does Avian Influenza spread to other birds part of the poultry?

Birds that are a part of the poultry can easily catch avian influenza if they are in direct contact with an infected bird. However, in most cases, the virus spreads via indirect means like equipment, food, water, etc. Farmers should keep all the other kinds of animals away from their poultry to keep their poultry safe from the risk of any infection.