The advice hub Avian Influenza
Avian influenza is one of the most discussed poultry diseases of the last decade, mainly due to its potential ability to infect humans.
The condition is caused by a virus belonging to a group of viruses called Orthomyxoviruses which include the human and swine influenza viruses. This group of viruses are capable of mutating giving rise to many different strains - hence making vaccination almost impossible.
Just as with human Influenza, Avian Influenza comes in a variety of strains each of which vary in their severity of symptoms. Mild strains known as low pathogenic AI will only cause mild respiratory signs such as sneezing, runny nose, runny eyes and lethargy, whereas severe strains will cause your birds to appear very sick even to the point of causing sudden death.
The virus can infect all domestic fowl and wild birds giving it the ability to spread rapidly.
Because of the potential spread of AI to humans if you suspect your birds have AI or several of them have suddenly died, please contact your vet and they may advise it necessary to contact DEFRA if it is suspected.