Avian Influenza


Avian influenza, also called ‘bird flu’, is a highly contagious viral disease caused by certain influenza A type viruses. Avian Influenza occurs naturally in wild bird populations but varies in severity depending on both the strain of the virus and the species affected.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) viruses are spread through the nasal secretions, saliva, and feces of infected birds. Susceptible birds can become infected when they come in contact with infected birds or surfaces. HPAI is deadly to domestic poultry and can spread rapidly throughout flocks.

While HPAI primarily affects wild and domestic bird populations, the viruses can be transmitted to mammals. In rare instances, the virus can be transmitted to humans. Though the transmission risk for humans remains low, those who have contact with wild or domestic animals are encouraged to:

Please visit Information on Bird Flu | Avian Influenza (Flu) (cdc.gov) for additional information, bird flu updates, guidance, treatment, and prevention. 

Situation Summaries 

The Washington State Aviation Influenza Outbreak Map allows users to see if you are located within a current avian influenza response zone. Learn more about detections in Washington State at Bird Flu 2022-2024 | Washington State Department of Agriculture.

H5N1 Bird Flu: Current Situation Summary | CDC
The CDC monitors the current H5N1 in the United States, including detections in wild birds, poultry flocks, dairy cattle, and other mammals. Learn more about guidance and protective actions for the general public, those who work around animals, and those in healthcare. 

Signs and Symptoms 

  • Sudden death without prior symptoms
  • Lack of energy or appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Conjunctivitis (eye tearing, redness, irritation, or discharge)
  • Reduced egg production

Symptoms in mammals can vary based on the species.
Detection in Pets 
Detection in wild animals
Detection in livestock

Though it is rare for humans to become infected, symptoms can range in severity from no or mild symptoms to severe illness. As a precautionary measure, people who have contact with wild or domestic animals, and those who own poultry, livestock, or other animals should be aware of the risk of exposure to avian influenza in order to take proper precautions. If you develop illness, please contact your provider.

reporting sick birds
Please report sick or dead birds to the appropriate agency.

Wild Birds
Do not touch or move sick or dead wild birds. They should be reported using the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's online reporting tool.  

Domestic Birds
If you experience illness or death in your domestic flock, contact the Washington State Department of Agriculture's Avian Health Program at 1-800-606-3056 or use their online reporting tool


The best way to prevent the spread of Avian Influenza is to reduce the risk of potential exposure. General public prevention resources, as well as prevention information for specific audiences available below.

General Audience
Information on Bird Flu | CDC
Find current Avian Influenza information, updates, guidance, treatment, and prevention resources. 

Prevention and Antiviral Treatment of Bird Flu Viruses in People | Avian Influenza (Flu) (cdc.gov)
Learn about protective actions around birds and other animals, as well as prevention practices for both general and specific audiences. 

Avian Influenza | Washington State Department of Health
The Washington State Department of Health will provide additional health related information related to Washington State as needed.
Bird and Pet Owners

rereport illness immediately. USDA graphic

Please report unexplained illness or death in your domestic flock through the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Avian Health Program or call 1-800-606-3056.

Defend the Flock (usda.gov)
The USDA's Defend the Flock education program provides free tools and resources to those who work with or handle poultry. Learn how to recognize signs of illness in your flock and the protective biosecurity measures you can take through checklists, webinars, and informational videos. 

Backyard Flock Owners: Take Steps to Protect Yourself from Avian Influenza (cdc.gov)
The CDC provides additional information about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), cleaning, and disinfection necessary when there is risk of Avian Influenza. 

Backyard Poultry | Healthy Pets, Healthy People | CDC
The Healthy Pets, Healthy People page provides information on how to stay healthy around backyard poultry in order to keep yourself and your flock healthy. 

Bird Flu in Pets and Other Animals | Avian Influenza (Flu) (cdc.gov)
On rare occasions, Avian Influenza has infected and spread to domestic pets. Learn about how it can affect them here. 

Hunters and Wildlife Enthusiasts

Please report sick or dead wild birds using the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's online reporting tool

Avian Influenza occurs naturally among wild aquatic birds, meaning wild birds, such as ducks and shorebirds, can carry and spread the virus without showing signs of illness. For hunters and wildlife enthusiasts, it is important to:

  • Use proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when dressing game birds, handling game, and cleaning equipment.
  • Do no touch or harvest wild birds that are sick or found dead. 
  • Prevent dogs from coming into contact with sick or wild birds found dead. 
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. 
  • Monitor for symptoms for at least 10 days after the last day of potential exposure. 

Avian Influenza and Your Health- Hunters and Hunting FAQ | WA DOH 
Guidelines on what to do before, during, and after a hunting trip to protect yourself from Avian Influenza. 

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) | USDA 
Detailed guidelines about protective measures to take when hunting and dressing game. 
Occupational Safety
Those who have job-related contact with birds, or other animals, should be aware of potential risks associated, in order to take proper precautions to prevent Avian Influenza. Protective actions for those who work with animals because of their job include: 

  • Washing your hands with soap and warm water after handling animals. 
  • Avoiding touching your mouth, nose, or eyes after contact with animals or surface materials. 
  • Changing your clothes before and after contact with animals to avoid cross contamination. 

Avian Influenza - Overview | Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Provides OSHA requirements, safety measures for workers and employers, and strategies for controlling and preventing worker exposure. 
OSHA General Precautions Quick Card

Recommendations for Worker Protection and Use of PPE | CDC
Provides information for any person working with or exposed to animals to take steps to reduce the risk of infection. 
Livestock Owners
Livestock owners can help protect their animals from avian influenza following biosecurity practices: 
  • Keep poultry and wildlife away from livestock. 
  • Keep livestock away from ponds and wild waterfowl. 
  • Do not allow poultry, waterfowl, and wildlife to share water sources and feeders with livestock species. 
  • Manage movements of livestock and their transport.

Dairy Biosecurity Recommendations | Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory
Provides protection guidance around animals, transportation, visitors, disinfectants, management of sick animals, and everyday biosecurity resources. 

HPAI Detections in Livestock | USDA
The USDA maintains a list of confirmed HPAI detections in Domestic Livestock the United States and information for producers and veterinarians. 
Prevent Avian Influenza at Your Farm 
USDA document to improve biosecurity through wildlife management. 
Preparing and Consuming Food
While there is no evidence to suggest anyone in the United States has gotten bird flu after eating properly handled and cooked products, eating uncooked, undercooked, or unpasteurized animal or animal byproducts can still make you sick. 

Food Safety Preparation
4 Steps to Food Safety | FoodSafety.gov

Food Safety by Type of Food (printable document here
Additional Resources
Printable Documents