Avian Influenza

Current Disease Outbreak Information

Low path avian influenza has been detected in some states so far this year.  Some states, like Iowa, have implemented special movement requirements.  The following are requirements for moving poultry to Iowa: 

Iowa Poultry Permit Requirements

Iowa Poultry Permit Request Form

Disease Basics

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.  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.

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.


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: 

  • Restrict access to your property and keep your birds away from other birds.
  • Keep a designated pair of shoes to wear around your birds, wash clothing after visiting your birds, and use disinfectants correctly.
  • Clean and disinfect cages, poultry equipment and car tires after visiting a farm store, poultry swap, or other location with birds present.
  • 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.
  • Do not share equipment or supplies with others, but if you must, disinfect it first.
  • Wash hands before and after bird handling.​

Clinical Signs of Illness

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.

Human Health​​

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.  

More information about human health and H5N2 avian influenza can be found on the Department of Health Services website. 

An animal disease outbreak such as this can present other human health concerns arising from the stress under which farm owners and farm workers are living and working. There are several signs or symptoms when a farm family or farm worker may be in need of help. These are signs that can be observed by friends, extended family members, neighbors, milk haulers, veterinarians, feed/seed dealers, clergy persons, school personnel or health and human service workers.  The following materials are written to help recognize these signs and symptoms and get the individual appropriate help and resources: ​