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Delaware Department of
Agriculture

Delaware Avian Influenza Information Center



Avian influenza (AI) is a serious disease concern for poultry producers and animal health officials. While influenza strains in birds, just as in people, vary considerably in severity, some influenza viruses can be devastating to domestic poultry.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture with the help of the University of Delaware laboratory system, performs active surveillance and testing of birds for avian influenza within the state every single day. Surveillance is conducted at commercial poultry operations, exhibition and backyard flocks, and at livestock and poultry auctions. Testing for AI is performed in order to allow for early detection and elimination of the virus if it is found.

If you have sick or dead birds, call 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only). The staff at Delaware Department of Agriculture can make sure your birds get tested so you know why they are sick.

Types of Avian Influenza


Low Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (LPAI): Most AI strains are classified as low pathogenicity and cause few clinical signs in infected birds. LPAI generally does not pose a significant health threat to humans; however, LPAI is monitored because two strains of LPAI – the H5 and H7 strains – can mutate into highly pathogenic forms. There are few clinical signs, but they include mild respiratory disease (coughing and sneezing) and decreased egg production.

High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI): This is a more pathogenic type of avian influenza that is frequently fatal to birds and easily transmissible between susceptible species. Clinical signs include:

  • Sudden death without clinical signs
  • Lack of energy and appetite
  • Decreased egg production
  • Soft–shelled or misshapen eggs
  • Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, and legs
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing, sneezing
  • Lack of coordination
  • Diarrhea

For images of avian influenza clinical signs, visit the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The virus is shed in fecal droppings, saliva and nasal discharge of some avian wildlife species and infected domestic poultry.

What Do I Need to Know as a Poultry Producer?


Avian influenza (AI) is a serious disease concern for poultry producers and animal health officials. While influenza strains in birds, just as in people, vary considerably in severity, some influenza viruses can be devastating to domestic poultry.

Surveillance and Testing

The Delaware Department of Agriculture with the help of the University of Delaware laboratory system, performs active surveillance and testing of birds for avian influenza within the state every single day. Surveillance is conducted at commercial poultry operations, exhibition and backyard flocks, and at livestock and poultry auctions. Testing for AI is performed in order to allow for early detection and elimination of the virus if it is found.

If you have sick or dead birds, call 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only). The staff at Delaware Department of Agriculture can make sure your birds get tested so you know why they are sick.

Promoting Biosecurity

The Department of Agriculture is actively promoting biosecurity through education and outreach to poultry owners in the state. Register your flock by completing the Poultry Registration Form English /(Spanish) if you wish to receive mailings from the Delaware Department of Agriculture about disease alerts. See links below for biosecurity that you can use on your farm.

If you are a backyard flock owner, and have not registered your flock, complete the Poultry Registration Form English /(Spanish)

Domestic Birds: Sick or dead domestic birds, including backyard flocks and commercial poultry, should be reported to the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section, 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only). You can also contact the Department if you need additional information on biosecurity measures you can take to prevent disease in your flock. After hours, contact 302- 233-1480.

Wild Birds: To report groups of dead or sick waterfowl, raptors, shorebirds or gulls, contact DNREC’s Wildlife Section – Wildlife Disease Program, 302-735-3600.

Simple biosecurity steps can help protect your farm or back-yard bird flock.


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