Section 3. Response

Site: Extension Foundation Online Campus
Course: Avian Influenza Biosecurity for Backyard Flock Owners
Book: Section 3. Response
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Sunday, June 16, 2024, 2:35 PM


  1. Reporting Disease
  2. AI Confirmation
  3. Quarantine
  4. Vaccination
  5. Depopulation

Reporting Disease


If you notice signs of disease,
notify your local or
state veterinarian
or contact the USDA through
their free hotline. 

In this section you will learn

  • how an outbreak of avian influenza will be handled, and
  • the agencies and procedures involved to eradicate the disease.

If found to have serious disease in your flock, a team of advisers will evaluate the situation and provide an assessment within 24 hours of arrival. In the United States, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is the lead federal agency that will handle an avian influenza outbreak to protect you, your birds, and other poultry owners or industries nearby.3

Other agencies that may be involved are:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
Certain diseases, such as highly pathogenic avian influenza, are considered to be OIE listed diseases and are reportable to OIE. Listed diseases are defined as transmissible diseases which have the potential for very serious and rapid spread, irrespective of national borders, which are of serious socioeconomic or public health consequences and which are of major importance in the international trade of animals and animal products. As a result, avian influenza infections can have major trade disruptions, such as export bans on poultry products from infected countries.21


Avian Influenza Confirmation

The response operation can last from days to months depending on the magnitude of the outbreak. While every situation is different, these general procedures will begin with confirmation of the avian influenza virus.3

  • Advisers will take samples from your poultry.
  • Samples will be sent to USDA-approved laboratories where diagnostic tests will verify disease status.
  • Positive samples are then sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) for confirmation.
  • NVSL can verify the presence of avian influenza, the specific viral subtype, and its pathogenicity (low pathogenic or highly pathogenic).

CDC Photo Library: James Gathany


In the event of an AI outbreak, a quarantine will be placed on the premises. During the quarantine, movement restrictions are enforced on an infected area and culling of infected or exposed birds may be ordered to prevent the spread of disease. Zones will also be established to monitor and survey the location of infected flocks.3

Road Closed
FEMA: Patsy Lynch


Vaccination of birds is determined by USDA-APHIS.3

  • Generally not used in the U.S.
  • Exceptions are occasionally made for commercial turkey flocks and isolated poultry farms.

Vaccination during an AI outbreak requires serious thought as it can have severe consequences. Not vaccinating properly could result in the infection becoming endemic. Another concern is that the virus still replicates in healthy vaccinated birds but the signs of disease are masked. This removes the most significant warning signal for HPAI.


Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) of the H5 and H7 subtypes are OIE "Listed" diseases and classified as "Notifiable Avian Influenza" or NAI. According to OIE guidelines, further spread of NAI must be prevented through various control practices which include "stamping out" or depopulation of infected and presumptive positive birds. This is accompanied by tight restrictions on the movement of poultry, personnel and related industry activities within the designated quarantine area.21

Within 24 hours of the premises being classified as infected, the infected and susceptible birds will be humanely euthanized or depopulated.3

  • Procedures vary by state and will be determined by officials from the affected jurisdiction.
  • Procedures are carried out only by qualified persons to assure methods are performed in a quick, safe, and humane manner.

Once the area has been cleared, depopulated birds will be disposed of in accordance with State and Federal regulations. Decontamination of the property will follow.