Q: Can I catch bird flu (avian influenza) if I keep chickens?
A: No. But it's always a good idea to be informed, to practice good biosecurity, and to cook your eggs and meat all the way through.
Bird flu, or Avian Influenza (AI), is a viral disease that can infect domestic poultry. There are two types of AI viruses: low pathogenicity (LPAI) and high pathogenicity (HPAI). Whether a virus is LPAI or HPAI depends on the severity of the illness it causes. HPAI is the extremely infectious and deadly-to-birds form of the disease that you've probably heard about. It can spread rapidly from flock to flock. In 2022, the USDA is finding some cases of HPAI in several states.
Can I catch Avian Influenza from my flock?
No human illness from AI has ever occurred in this country. This includes the current strain of HPAI known as Eurasian H5 Avian Influenza. That said, don’t be cavalier. It always makes sense to wash your hands after handling your flock and to practice good biosecurity to keep them free from illness. Learn more about that via the links below and at the USDA’s Biosecurity 101 page.
Can I catch Avian Influenza from eating eggs or poultry?
No, you can’t. The USDA tells us that you cannot contract Avian Influenza from properly-cooked eggs and meat. Further, they state that “The chance of infected poultry or eggs entering the food chain is extremely low because of the rapid onset of symptoms in poultry as well as the safeguards USDA has in place, which include testing of flocks, and Federal inspection programs.”
If that weren’t enough, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture states that “Avian influenza does not present a food safety risk; poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly.” And Michigan State University states unequivocally: “Humans cannot get avian influenza from poultry and eggs.”
You can also watch these YouTube videos to see additional tips and advice: