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Bird flu confirmed in Idaho chicken flocks

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is highly contagious and often fatal to birds, although human infections are uncommon.

CARIBOU COUNTY, Idaho — The Idaho State Department of Agriculture confirmed Friday that multiple cases of avian flu have been found in two separate flocks of domestic Idaho chickens.

One of the chicken flocks is in Gooding County, and the other is in Caribou County, officials said. The groups of birds do not appear to have any overlap or connection.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza - more commonly known as bird flu or avian flu - is highly contagious and often fatal to birds. 

It is unusual, but possible, to spread to humans, typically through direct contact with an infected bird. The illness can not be contracted through meat if it is cooked according to food safety standards. 

Symptoms in people include conjunctivitis, fever, lethargy, aches, coughing, or diarrhea. In birds, signs of the illness include decreased appetite, decreased activity, breathing difficulty, dark combs and wattles, and unexplained death. 

"It is essential for poultry owners to be vigilant in monitoring for illness and contacting the ISDA State Veterinarian immediately when HPAI symptoms are confirmed," officials wrote in a news release. "HPAI is a reportable disease in Idaho, and veterinarians are required to report positive detections to the ISDA."

The virus is carried by geese and ducks along their migratory path, and is passed through close contact between birds. HPAI can be carried on tools, vehicles, clothing, and boots, which can spread the illness from one location to another. 

Limiting the number of people who interact with your flock, washing hands before and after handling birds, and having dedicated clothing and tools for each flock can help prevent infection and spread of bird flu.

For more information on HPAI and how to protect your animals, click here.

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