Avian Influenza Talking Points

We expect high path H5N1 to arrive in the U.S.  While it’s possible that it will not reach our borders, we are preparing as if it will.

The arrival of high path avian influenza would NOT signal the start of a human flu pandemic.

Properly prepared poultry is safe to eat.

We have experience responding to high path avian influenza – we’ve done so three times in the United States.

We are expanding wild bird testing as an early warning system.

Detection in wild birds would NOT mean high path AI will reach commercial poultry because the U.S. poultry industry is very sophisticated.

We have a detailed response plan in place and the ability to quickly dispatch a team to the scene of an outbreak.

Additional Background Information

Monitoring Domestic Flocks: We work with state and industry partners to monitor and test domestic flocks, including those at live bird markets and commercial poultry operations

Border Control:  We have several protections in place at our borders.

Feathers: the importation of commercial shipments of raw bulk feathers from highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI) affected countries must comply with USDA regulations to prevent the introduction and dissemination of HPAI H5N1 into the United States. These shipments are required to have a certificate of processing according to USDA regulations and an import permit. 

Note: USDA regulations address importation of poultry and poultry products.  We do not have the authority on labeling fully finished commodities containing feathers such as comforters, pillows, jackets, etc.  

International Assistance: We are expanding our assistance to countries affected by high path H5N1 - knowing that anything we can do to contain the virus overseas, will help to protect both animal and human health in the U.S.

Response Plan details: In the event of an outbreak, we are prepared to take five main steps:

Vaccines: Additionally, USDA maintains a bank of bird vaccines to protect healthy birds outside a control area, if necessary.

Lab Capabilities:  We have a network of 39 USDA-certified federal, state and university laboratories capable of conducting AI tests  (part of National Animal Health Laboratory Network)

Funding:  Thanks to the President’s leadership in identifying this as a priority, and our ability to access animal health emergency funds, we have the resources needed to prepare and respond.