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Departments » UW Extension » Agriculture
General Information

(Information from WI DATCP, EPA, and other sources)

What is avian influenza?

Avian influenza (AI), or “bird flu,” is a virus that infects domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks and geese, and wild birds, particularly waterfowl. AI viruses are divided into two groups—highly pathogenic (HPAI) and low pathogenic (LPAI)—based on the ability of the virus to produce disease and the severity of the illness it can cause. HPAI spreads rapidly and has a high death rate in birds. LPAI causes only minor illness and occurs naturally in migratory waterfowl. There are many strains of avian influenza, many of which show little or no visible signs of illness and pose no threat to public health. Each year new strains of AI may appear throughout the world.

Where has it been found in Wisconsin?

Cases have been found in the following counties:


These counties are under a ban from the state veterinarian. No movement of poultry to shows, fairs, exhibitions, swap meats, etc.

Can humans become infected with this strain of the avian flu (H5N2)?

The avian influenza strain currently detected in the United States causes no apparent human health concerns. No one in the U.S. has become ill from this strain. Avian influenza has been found in other parts of the world, where there have been some cases of human illness from coming in contact with infected birds. It is safe to eat properly prepared poultry products, including meat and eggs.

How is avian influenza spread between birds?

Direct contact with infected birds, contaminated objects/equipment and aerosol (short distances) can spread the virus which is found in feces, saliva and respiratory secretions.

What are the symptoms?

Many birds with low pathogenic AI may not show any signs of illness. Poultry affected by any type of avian influenza can show many symptoms, including one or more of the following:

- Decreased food consumption, huddling, depression, closed eyes
- Respiratory signs, such as coughing and sneezing
- Decreased egg production, watery greenish diarrhea, excessive thirst
- Swollen wattles and combs

High mortality and sudden death are specific to highly pathogenic AI infections.

What preventative measures can I take to protect my birds?

Biosecurity is a set of practices designed to reduce the risk of spreading disease from sick birds to healthy ones. We recommend adding these practices to your routine:

1. Restrict access to your property and keep your birds away from other birds.

2. Keep a designated pair of shoes to wear around your birds, wash clothing after visiting your birds, and use disinfectants correctly.

3. Clean and disinfect cages, poultry equipment and car tires after visiting a farm store, poultry swap, or other location with birds present.

4. Keep new birds separate from your flock for 30 days; quarantine returning birds from the rest of your flock after visiting a poultry swap, exhibition or other event.

5. Do not share equipment or supplies with others, but if you must, disinfect it first.

6. Wash hands before and after bird handling.

Read more about General Biosecurity Practices for Non-farm Personnel.

What disinfectants will kill avian (bird) flu?

The Environmental Protection Agency has published lists that can be found here:

Registered Antimicrobial products with label claims for avian (bird) flu disinfectants

Antimicrobial products to disinfect poultry and other facilities against avian (bird) flu

Will the avian flu affect poultry shows, fairs, etc.?
**UPDATED (4/21)** It was previously stated that there were no changes to fairs. However, in light of recent outbreaks in Wisconsin, the State Veterinarian has issued a ban on all poultry shows, exhibitions, and swap meats in the counties with known cases of H5N2. To date those counties include: Barron, Juneau, Jefferson, and Chippewa counties.

Still have questions?
The state media contacts are:

Raechelle Cline 608-224-5005
Jim Dick 608-224-5020

Locally, contact UW-Extension Brown County Agriculture Educator, Liz Binversie at 920-391-4612 or

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