Avian influenza, also referred to as bird flu, is a virus that infects all types of avian species, including wild birds and domestic poultry. AI is an animal health issue that causes mild to severe symptoms in birds, and in its most extreme form, can be fatal to infected birds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the strains of AI that have been found in the U.S. are not a public health concern and have not affected any humans to date.
In the spring of 2015, more than 12 percent of America’s egg laying hens (35 million) were affected by an AI outbreak which disrupted egg production and the availability of eggs. While it took several months, U.S. egg farmers worked diligently to restore the egg supply to pre-AI levels. Since the 2015 AI outbreak, U.S. egg farmers have made significant increases to biosecurity measures on their farms to protect their flocks. Comprehensive disease prevention protocols on commercial egg farms include, but are not limited to, restricting farm access, preventing hens from exposure to wild and migratory birds, increasing veterinary monitoring of flocks and using protective gear at all times. For examples, see this information on disease prevention from United Egg Producers.
On January 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the identification of avian influenza (AI) in a wild mallard duck in Montana. Per USDA, no illnesses or mortalities in domestic poultry have been reported. Beginning in November 2016, high pathogen avian influenza (HPAI) has been confirmed in several Asian and European countries; for more on global AI outbreaks see the World Organization for Animal Health website.