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Worldwide, there are many strains of avian influenza (AI) virus, which can cause varying degrees of illness in poultry. AI viruses can infect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese and guinea fowl as well as a wide variety of other birds. Migratory waterfowl are also known to carry the less infectious strains of AI viruses. Each year there is a flu season for birds just as there is for humans and, as with people, some forms of the flu are worse than others.
AI strains are divided into two groups: low pathogenicity (LP) and high pathogenicity (HP). LPAI, or "low path" avian influenza, has existed in the United States since the early 1900's and is commonly found here. It causes birds to become ill and can be fatal to them. These strains of the disease pose no known serious threat to human health. HPAI, or "high path" avian influenza, is more fatal and transmissible. HPAI is the type currently affecting parts of Asia and Eastern Europe. These strains of the disease in Asia have been transmitted from birds to humans, most of whom had extensive, direct contact with infected birds. HPAI has been detected three times in the United States: in 1924, 1983, and 2004. The 2004 outbreak was quickly confined to one flock and eradicated. There were no human illnesses reported in connection with these outbreaks.
For further information visit USDA Avian Influenza
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