Avian Influenza


Quick Facts about Avian Influenza

Commonly known as avian flu or bird flu, avian influenza is a disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses. These viruses naturally spread among wild aquatic birds worldwide, including ducks, geese, swans, and storks, and can infect domesticated birds like chickens and turkeys. Some bird flu viruses can infect and spread to other animals as well. Bird flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with bird flu viruses have occurred.

While uncommon, workers can be infected after unprotected exposure to infected birds/animals when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, is inhaled, or when a person touches something that has virus on it and then touches their mouth, eyes, or nose. Animals with avian flu shed the virus in their bodily fluids. People should avoid unprotected exposure to dead animals/birds, animal waste, bedding, raw milk/uncooked animal products, or materials touched by, or close to animals with suspected or confirmed avian influenza. Workers who have unprotected exposure (no gloves or other personal protective equipment) with infected animals or their products (e.g. raw milk, raw cheeses, raw eggs) are at risk of infection. This page provides information about avian influenza, including safety measures, for workers and employers who are:

  • Egg or poultry farmers or processors
  • Farmers, ranchers, stock handlers, and other livestock handlers or processors
  • Disease control and eradication workers (including government and private sector workers)
  • Animal handlers such as pet shop employees, veterinarians, or zookeepers
  • Research laboratory employees

The page includes sections on:


Provides background information on Avian Influenza including source and transmission.

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Highlights OSHA requirements and related information that may be applicable in the event of possible worker exposure to Avian Influenza viruses.

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Control and Prevention

Discusses strategies for controlling and preventing worker exposure to avian influenza.

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Provides links and references to additional resources related to Avian Influenza.

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