The US Department of Agriculture reports that avian flu has now spread to 30 states. Avian influenza (AI) is caused by an influenza type A virus which is classified by a combination of two groups of proteins: hemagglutinin or “H” proteins, of which there are 16 (H1–H16), and neuraminidase or “N” proteins, of which there are 9 (N1–N9). AI viruses are further classified by their pathogenicity. This year the Eurasian H5 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected in wild birds and domestic poultry in the US.
This is the worst outbreak of Avian Flu since 2015. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering vaccines to protect poultry against this flu, but a decision has not been made yet. In addition to the US, Europe and Asia are also experiencing Avian Flu outbreaks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the recent HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the US. However, the proper handling and cooking of all poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F are recommended as a general food safety precaution. Information from the CDC including case definitions, treatment, and reporting recommendations may be found here.
More information on this outbreak from the USDA may be found here.