Delaware Avian Influenza Information Center

Avian influenza (AI) is a serious disease concern for poultry producers and animal health officials. While influenza strains in birds, just as in people, vary considerably in severity, some influenza viruses can be devastating to domestic poultry.

This page will provide information on avian influenza and keep Delaware residents and poultry growers up to date concerning the current High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI) events occurring in North America.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture performs active surveillance and testing of birds for avian influenza within the state every single day. Surveillance is conducted at commercial poultry operations, exhibition and backyard flocks, and at livestock and poultry auctions. Testing for AI is performed in order to allow for early detection and elimination of the virus if it is found.

If you have sick or dead birds, call (302) 698-4500 or (800) 282-8685 (Delaware only). The staff at Delaware Department of Agriculture can make sure they get tested so you know why they are sick.

Low Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (LPAI): Most AI strains are classified as low pathogenicity and cause few clinical signs in infected birds. LPAI generally does not pose a significant health threat to humans. However, LPAI is monitored because two strains of LPAI - the H5 and H7 strains - can mutate into highly pathogenic forms. There are few clinical signs, but they include mild respiratory disease (coughing and sneezing) and decreased egg production.

High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI): This is a more pathogenic type of avian influenza that is frequently fatal to birds and easily transmissible between susceptible species. The strain that has most recently been a concern in North America is the H5N2 HPAI virus. Clinical signs include:

  • Sudden death without clinical signs
  • Lack of energy and appetite
  • Decreased egg production
  • Soft–shelled or misshapen eggs
  • Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, and legs
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing, sneezing
  • Lack of coordination
  • Diarrhea

For images of avian influenza clinical signs, visit the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The virus is shed in fecal droppings, saliva and nasal discharge of some avian wildlife species and infected domestic poultry. Contaminated water has become a common source of infection for wild birds.

Commercial Poultry Farmers

Back-Yard Flock Owners

The Public