Avian Influenza (AI) - Emergence - Your Guide to Transboundary & Emerging Diseases
The corner device.
Total Reported Outbreaks
Total Affected Countries
Total Affected Species
Key Facts
Clinical Signs
Treatment and Management
Focus on...

Avian influenza is a notifiable viral disease that significantly impacts poultry health and welfare, farmer livelihoods, and trade. Biosecurity and management pose a huge challenge due to the wild bird reservoir and in cases of epidemics.

Read More
Avian Influenza (AI)

This disease is prevalent in many parts of the world. Find out where the latest reported outbreaks are with this map.

Key Facts
Clinical Signs

As there are different types of the avian influenza virus, so the clinical presentation of the disease may vary. LPAI is associated with few or no clinical signs whereas HPAI is highly contagious and can cause severe clinical signs and high mortality. Clinical signs in poultry may range from mild respiratory signs, reduced egg production and immunosuppression with LPAI, to severe respiratory signs, sudden drop in egg production and up to 100% mortality with HPAI. Other signs may be seen.


Treatment is not an option given the rapid spread and high mortality of HPAI. Preventive measures must be taken to reduce the impact of this disease.


The World Health Organization (WHO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) work together on international coordination of the control of avian influenza. This includes science-based international guidelines and recommendations, as well as monitoring via the network of reference laboratories. Effective surveillance, including wild birds, is important to increase early disease detection. As with many other diseases, prevention is important and effective biosecurity measures are essential for poultry farms and owners of domestic birds. These focus on keeping the virus out of contact with poultry, and includes good cleaning and disinfection, barriers to prevent contact with wild birds, and controlling the access of people to poultry buildings. In the event of HPAI outbreaks stamping out is a standard tool to eradicate the virus in many areas, whilst vaccination may also be an option.

Hens in a field, that could be at risk of avian influenza
Focus on…
Focus On… Avian Influenza – a unique challenge
Influenza viruses occur naturally in many wild birds and, periodically, some of these ‘spill over’ into poultry, pigs, and humans. The winter of 2016/17 has seen widespread occurrence of a…
Latest Articles and Events
Knowledge Hub
Biosecurity Lessons from 'Navigating Avian Influenza: from Prevention to Recovery' Webinar
High pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has affected more than 45 million birds and over 500 flocks this year in the United States alone. And unlike the 2015 HPAI Outbreak, cases this year have continued throughout the summer and are still being confirmed well into the fall. This virus is a contributing factor to the US’s skyrocketing food prices, as one HPAI-positive bird in a flock triggers the depopulation of the whole flock. There is no treatment nor cure, and the mortality rate in chickens is more than 95%. Infected birds often suffer sudden death with few to little clinical signs. This past September, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) hosted a webinar presenting materials from their Defend the Flock education program. This program provides practical and affordable mitigation measures that commercial and backyard operations alike can adopt to stop the spread of HPAI. Dr. Julie Gauthier from APHIS spoke about how wild birds are the clear source of this year’s outbreaks, accounting for 85% of cases. This is why keeping wild birds away from poultry flocks is one of the most important aspects of flock biosecurity. Why no outdoor open water sources? Canadian Geese were thought to have spread HPAI to flocks across the US in the 2015 Outbreak during their migration via droppings. This year’s more scattered infections are being attributed to wild ducks and other waterfowl. The National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) works to prevent flocks from being infected by new additions of animals that might harbor a disease, such as chicks. Several avian diseases, including avian influenza, are tested for and monitored in flocks that participate in NPIP and the operation’s disease status is publicly available. In the past, this has worked spectacularly well to control other deadly avian diseases such as Pullorum Disease and Fowl Typhoid. HPAI can spread very easily from flock-to-flock and so it was also highly recommended by Dr. Gauthier for those who have a poultry flock to disinfect equipment regularly, wash hands frequently, to never share tools, and to keep a dedicated pair of shoes that never leave the farm. How visitors are managed is also a major consideration and can entail separate visitor parking in an area that is furthest away from where birds are kept as well as recording visitors’ prior 14-day exposure history (ex. visits to other poultry farms). Most farms require people to have no contact with poultry within 72 hours prior to visiting. A point stressed throughout the webinar was the need for quick reporting of sick birds to the appropriate personnel so that testing services can be deployed immediately. Some examples listed were veterinarians, local extension offices, and the state’s Board of Animal Health. The USDA also has a toll-free number (1-866-536-7593) that can give a local contact for reporting. The only way to diagnose avian influenza is through specialized lab testing of samples taken from birds. Cathryn Anderson from Pineland Farms, a 5,000-acre diversified farm and agricultural education center in Maine, was another guest on the webinar. She spoke of her experience with an HPAI scare in the spring of this year when 20 chickens on their farm suddenly died. Immediately, the farm put their HPAI emergency response plan into action and took measures such as separating poultry-related activities from the rest of the farm in order to contain the possible outbreak. A lab-confirmed positive case would have necessitated depopulating the rest of their 500 birds within 48 hours of the results. Thankfully, the lab results were HPAI-negative. Resources: USDA HPAI 2022 Confirmed Detections map USDA Defend the Flock - Resource Center
Learn More
Guide - Australia's DAFF and CSIRO - ‘Emergency animal diseases - A field guide for Australian veterinarians’
A field guide for veterinarians providing information on emergency animal diseases (EADs), a publication of Australia's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation).
Learn More
International Symposium of Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (ISVEE), Canada 2022
My name is Rachel Herschman and I have been an intern on the International Veterinary Health (IVH) team for three months. I attended the International Symposium of Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (ISVEE) last month in Halifax, Canada from 7th August to 12th August 2022. The clear themes interwoven throughout the conference were the importance of having a diversity of evidence at hand, international collaboration, and having a One Health philosophy. ‘One Health’ is an approach that calls for interdisciplinary collaboration in recognizing how human health, environmental health, and animal health are interconnected. Understanding this interconnectedness across multiple points of view is thought to be the most optimal way to solve problems in these sectors. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada The Global Burden of Animal Diseases The Global Burden of Animal Diseases (GBADs) was one of the many shining organizations at ISVEE. Their talks focused on neglected zoonotic diseases (NZD), many of which disproportionally affect vulnerable groups in low/middle-income countries. Much of epidemiology depends on the availability and accessibility of large datasets, which often results in bias that can over and underprioritize diseases. One such example is Anthrax, a disease found to be the most prioritized in countries worldwide despite being estimated to have a very low disease burden. Therefore, GBABs is exploring graph databases and better data management frameworks to enable more data sharing and reportability. Animal Health Loss Envelope (AHLE). Animal Health Loss Envelope (AHLE). Mortality does not do a great job of capturing the total amount of damage a disease causes. Biomass and economic values were shown to be valuable denominators for disease burden estimates. Using these variables requires large amounts of data and discussion but can yield insightful measures such as the Animal Health Loss Envelope (AHLE). The AHLE can be broken up and attributed to specific causes using complex methodologies. Using this tool can formalize the relationship between health risks in livestock production. AHLE was used to look at the costs associated with poultry production in the UK and showed that the cost of disease burden is roughly the same as the cost of chicks (chicks being the second highest cost in production inputs next to feed costs). AHLE was used to look at the costs associated with poultry production in the UK and showed that the cost of disease burden is roughly the same as the cost of chicks (chicks being the second highest cost in production inputs next to feed costs). When speaking to Carlotta Di Bari about their poster detailing brucellosis burden, the usage of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) was discussed as it is used by many public institutes to create a thorough comparisons of the health impacts felt in a population. This poster was also cited in a GBABs talk by David Pigott focusing on livestock impacts on human health Foot and Mouth Disease Dr. Polly Compston’s presentation was done with data from questionnaires that covered the impact of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreaks on cattle, market activities, animal husbandry and production systems, and household demographics. The partial budget analysis included the current cost of the disease and inconsistent vaccination, the impact of effective disease control through vaccination, and the revenue forgone (i.e., lost milk yields caused by FMD infection). FMD infection can disrupt a female cattles’ reproductive cycle. Milk fertility is a measure of the milk lost due to these reproductive delays, and the analysis showed a consequence of six months of milk lost due to FMD that did not include the milk losses during the clinical infection The panel discussion and Q&A segment of “Modeling Approaches to Support Progressive Control and Eradication of Transboundary Animal Diseases, with a Focus on PPR and FMD” touched upon the importance of data availability and strategies to discuss modelling to non-scientific officials. Main points: The absence of a rich database for Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), can lead to overlooking uptake issues in vaccination program.Discussions with non-scientific officials must be a participative process where there is ownership and belief in modelling tools.It might even be beneficial to have a dedicated member to present the outcomes of a model, instead of the person who built the model, so that the information can be distilled into simple messaging. Panel discussion on “Modeling Approaches to Support Progressive Control and Eradication of Transboundary Animal Diseases, with focus on PPR and FMD. Avian Influenza China’s yellow boiler industry has been understudied with no prior research on the chickens before going to market, and current Avian Influenza (AI) control policy does not consider the unique ways yellow broilers are reared. A value chain analysis of this sector in Guangxi, China (Tang, et al., 2021) identified the use of trading platforms as a key point for targeted intervention to prevent the spread of H7H9 (Asian Lineage Avian Influenza A) to other birds and people. Contracted broiler farmers, used extensively in this region, send their market-weight chickens to trading platforms before they are transported to live bird markets to be sold to the public. Professor Arjan Stegeman from Utrecht University detailed how wild bird densities and landscape variables can predict spatial patterns in high pathogenicity AI (HPAI) outbreak risk across the Netherlands. The analysis was about HPAI introduction, not about its spread. Mallard ducks were shown to be the migratory bird with the most associated risk, but inland outbreaks were attributed to geese having a greater role. With the most important wild bird species’ populations varying year to year, models therefore need to be updated regularly to remain accurate. Professor Stegeman’s HPAI risk map of the Netherlands that uses three algorithms. Lumpy Skin Disease One of the most anticipated talks of the conference was on the qualitative assessment of the probability of introduction and onward transmission of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) in Ukraine (Farra, et al., 2022). LSD was detected in Russia in 2015, suspected to have been introduced via the Balkans. Instability in Ukraine this year could make LSD's introduction into the country a real possibility. Qualitative risk assessment analysis showed that the highest risk for LSD introduction was the illegal importation of cattle and that a strong legal framework was associated with the least risk. Local experts included veterinary authorities, field veterinarians, and academics from universities. The report was received well in Ukraine and is being used to revise strategies in place and to better understand the introduction pathways. African Swine Fever To be ready for a case of African Swine Fever (ASF) transmission, many countries are running simulations so that emergency plans and procedures can be more effectiveTo be ready for a case of African Swine Fever (ASF) transmission, many countries are running simulations so that emergency plans and procedures can be more effectiveTo be ready for a case of African Swine Fever (ASF) transmission, many countries are running simulations so that emergency plans and procedures can be more effective I spoke with Dr. Amy Hagerman, an Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University, about her student’s research on ASF’s impact on the pork prices in the Hispaniola Island. The supply of Creole swine is forecasted not to recover until 2030, leaving the prices for the traditional pig product high and could mean its further displacement by commercial swine that are faster to recover. Rabies In this talk, free roaming domestic dogs (FRDDs, dogs belonging to a community) were identified as the main source of rabies transmission to humans in a study including Indonesia and Guatemala. The study tracked FRDDs to see what habitats they chose to live in. Knowing this could make oral rabies vaccination campaigns more successful. Veterinary Education The quality of a veterinarian’s communication skills impact client satisfaction. By training with this digital role-play, veterinary practitioners were better able to understand how to clarify clients’ needs and build strong working relationships. The Norwegian University of Life Sciences evaluated how having students making podcasts about epidemiological topics could be a way to actively aid their learning. The students worked in groups and took on different roles in the podcast. It was stated that this project creates a motivational learning environment by incorporating curiosity, challenges, choice, control, and collaboration.The Norwegian University of Life Sciences evaluated how having students making podcasts about epidemiological topics could be a way to actively aid their learning. The students worked in groups and took on different roles in the podcast. It was stated that this project creates a motivational learning environment by incorporating curiosity, challenges, choice, control, and collaboration. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of MSD Animal Health.
Learn More
Podcast Episode 3 - 2022 - The One Answering Your Questions on Avian Influenza
With continued outbreaks of avian influenza, we posed some of your questions to Dr David Swayne, USDA. Dr Swayne is the Center Director of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s laboratory for poultry health research. My apologies for the sound interference on my side of the discussion. I had decorators in the house, the squeaking and other noises are them on the ground floor above my recording studio.
Learn More
Website – IVVN – International Veterinary Vaccinology Network
The IVVN is an international community of over 1,600 members working together to develop improved vaccines for livestock and zoonotic diseases.
Learn More
Exploring New Frontiers in Animal Health at EPIZONE
I’m a final year DPhil student studying at The Pirbright Institute and the University of Oxford. My studies are partly sponsored by MSD Animal Health. This has included a 3-month placement with the International Veterinary Health (IVH) team, where I’ve been enjoying getting a new perspective on the cooperation between research and industry, and learning more about logistics, global partnerships and communicating with varying audiences. At the start of my placement I attended EPIZONE, an annual conference focusing on epizootic animal diseases, where I shared my work, and connected with Kasia Bankowska (Associate Director, Quality Assurance, Biomaterials Team) and Erwin van den Born (Principal Scientist, Global R&D) from MSD Animal Health. From left: Erwin van den Born, Kasia Bankowska, Charlotte Cook In May, the 14th Annual Meeting of the EPIZONE network took place in Barcelona at the World Trade Centre after two years of hiatus, bringing together some of the most exciting and novel research into epizootic animal disease. Increasingly, emerging and transboundary diseases such as African swine fever and lumpy skin disease present challenges to farmers and economies across the world. Conferences such as EPIZONE enable scientists and professionals from a range of fields with a common interest in animal health to meet, network, and share their work with the wider community. I was fortunate enough to present my work on the impact of the stable fly Stomoxys calcitrans on lumpy skin disease (LSD) pathogenesis in the Vector Borne Diseases session. My work, which presented an in vivo study of three novel LSD virus (LSDV) inoculation methodologies unpicking LSDV transmission (read more in this article Unraveling the Transmission of Lumpy Skin Disease Virus), was the culmination of a PhD project partly funded by MSD Animal Health . Though nerve wracking to present in front of my scientific colleagues after years of presenting virtually, it was well received, with plenty of questions being asked after the presentation, and in the coffee break! Charlotte Cook at Epizone presenting her work on the impact of stable fly on LSD, Barcelona, Spain. There were many fascinating talks, spanning a range of hosts and diseases. A standout talk for me was a keynote talk by Dr Sofie Dhollander from the European Food Safety Authority on the prevention and control of African swine fever (ASF) in wild boar populations. As this disease is rapidly spreading across Europe, it was very interesting to see how modelling wild boar management strategies and their impact on different locations could aid in the control of this virus. Overall, there was a positive perception of control approaches being developed around the globe and a sense of cautious optimism towards reducing the spread, which came through in a lot of discussions. “Due to the current global outbreak of African swine fever, the disease continues to get a lot attention. The overall feeling is that we are close to an efficacious and safe live-attenuated ASF vaccine that is ready for the market, but I feel that we still need to understand how safe these gene-deleted vaccine strain really are, as most of them are based on highly virulent field isolates.” said Erwin van den Born, Principal Scientist R&D Swine Biologicals MSD Animal Health. Lesser-known emerging diseases were also given a spotlight. As a keen foodie, it was fascinating to hear about hepatitis E in pigs and its relationship with Corsican sausages! Kasia also enjoyed the emerging and re-emerging diseases session, “especially the talks on pathogenicity of yet another Pestivirus and the detection of Borna Disease Virus in a subfamily of shrews in Germany.” Pestiviruses were a hot topic this conference, with many talks and posters focusing on them. Erwin added: “I did like the talk from CReSA on the recently discovered Ovine pestivirus (OVPV). It can actually infect pigs, and can even be used to immunize pigs and protect them against a Classic swine fever virus challenge.” After years of virtual meetings and symposia, it was wonderful to meet scientists in person from across Europe in a sunny and convivial setting. The theme of the meeting was “New horizons, new challenges”, and that was definitely achieved - I feel even more motivated to share my work and continue communicating the importance of addressing animal health and disease as we look to make the world a healthier place. Before you go: Find out more about lumpy skin disease.Read about Groundbreaking research on transmission of lumpy skin disease .Explore the African swine fever resources in our Knowledge Hub.Learn more about transboundary and emerging diseases. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of MSD Animal Health. Photo credits: Charlotte Cook, Kasia Bankowska.
Learn More
Free Animal Health Expert Trainings from the FAO elearning Academy
The FAO eLearning Academy offer free access to a wide range of trainings for professionals involved in the control of diseases.
Learn More
Podcast Episode 2 - 2022 - The One About Avian Influenza
A discussion with Professor Ian Brown of the Animal and Plant Health Authority regarding the on-going global avian influenza outbreak. We consider the international implications, and how this impacts national poultry farms, as well as discussing how to reduce the risk. In addition, an update on current events, including our recent One Health event on Vector Borne Diseases. Link to One Health Event on Vector Borne Diseases - https://thevetexhibition.com/one-health Link to FAO eLearning on AMR - https://fao.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_9cK4yHOIQLaan5M5VbpW3A Acronyms: AI - Avian influenza APHA - Animal and Plant Health Authority, UK FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations HPAI - High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza LPAI - Low Pathogenicity Avian Influenza offlu - OIE and FAO network of expertise on influenza OIE - World Organization for Animal Health
Learn More

Latest Scientific Papers

Subscribe to our free newsletter and stay up to date with all news and events.