Avian flu is taking a holiday. It’s been three months since the H5N1 bird flu struck commercial poultry flocks in the United States. 

After a long string of infections required America’s poultry business to depopulate their flocks by 58.7 million birds in 2022-23, there is a welcomed break in the outbreak.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) last struck a commercial flock in the U.S. on April 18, 2023.

Veterinary experts told the 2023 Chicken Marketing Summit that nobody has a crystal ball to forecast what will happen.  While commercial poultry is getting a break in North America, the same cannot be said for the rest of the world. 

According to the World Organization for Animal Health, Sweden, Poland, Germany and Denmark have all seen recurrences this summer of Avian flu outbreaks. Some countries, including the United States, are reporting that the virus has jumped from birds to mammals.

Only some reports in New York’s live bird markets have marred the U.S. record since last April.

Commercial poultry businesses in the United States continue to  invest in biosecurity measures because they are best barriers for the perimeters. Personal protection equipment is also used. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Aug.9, 2023, updated its Avian flu work.

Commercial poultry is not in a high demand for vaccinations in the U.S, because of concern they might mask the the disease and slow identification. 

Only one person in the U.S. has been confirmed as being infected by the bird flu, and that person fully recovered.

More than one year ago, CDC reported that a Colorado man tested positive for avian influenza A(H5) virus (H5 bird flu). The case occurred in a person who had direct exposure to poultry and was involved in culling (depopulating) poultry with presumptive H5N1 bird flu.

The CDC again reports that the current public health risk from Avian flu remains low.

The patient reported fatigue for a few days as his only symptom and has since recovered. The patient is being isolated and treated with the influenza antiviral drug. 

The case did not change the human risk assessment for the general public, which CDC considers low. However, people with job-related or recreational exposures to infected birds are at higher risk of infection and should take appropriate precautions.

The CDC said detecting H5 bird flu may result from surface contamination of the nasal membrane. Still, it could not be determined, and the positive test result meets the criteria for an H5 case.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)