50 Bird Flu & Avian Influenza Statistics & Trends (2024)

It seems like every year, we hear about Bird Flu, which is also commonly called Avian Influenza, and how it seems to get more deadly.

bird flu statistics and trends

While this disease most commonly affects commercial poultry operations, it is also dangerous to many species of wild birds. If you decide to set up a bird feeder at your home, make sure you keep it VERY clean. Most experts recommend that you wash the entire feeder in a 10% bleach/ 90% water solution every week or two to kill harmful bacteria.

50 Bird Flu & Avian Influenza Statistics & Trends


#1. Avian influenza A viruses have been isolated from more than 100 different species of wild birds around the world (CDC).

#2. Over the past 20 years, 870 humans have been infected with avian flu and 457 have died (WHO).

#3. In the 1990s, the world’s poultry population grew 76% in developing countries and 23% in developed countries, contributing to the increased prevalence of avian influenza (EcoHealth).

#4. As of April 6, 2023, a total of 240 cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus have been reported from four countries within the Western Pacific Region since January 2003. Of these cases, 135 were fatal, resulting in a case fatality rate (CFR) of 56% (WHO).

#5. Between October 1, 2021, and January 20, 2023, there were highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in 79 that infected 5,602 domestic birds, 4,271 wild birds, and 119 mammals (World Organization for Animal Health – WOHA).

#6. Data collected and analyzed since 2005 indicate that high pathogenicity avian influenza is seasonal with the spread being lowest in September, beginning to rise in October, and peaking in February (World Organization for Animal Health – WOHA).

#7. Bird flu infections in humans happen most often after someone has close, prolonged and unprotected (no gloves or other personal protective equipment) contact with infected birds and then touches their mouth, eyes, or nose (CDC).

#8. The H5N1 virus, which is the most prevalent strain of avian influenza now, was first reported in China in 1996 (BBC).

#9. The first human cases of H5N1 emerged during a poultry outbreak in China and Hong Hong in 1997 with 18 cases and six deaths (National Emerging Special Pathogens Training & Education Center – NETEC).

#10. The 2014–2015 H5N2/H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) epidemic required $879 million dollars in public expenditures to eradicate the disease from poultry production, making it the most costly animal health incident in US history (USDA).

#11. Between 2004 and 2005, over 100 million chickens were culled in Asia to contain H5N1 (National Library of Medicine).

#12. Mass culling is the principal strategy for eradicating influenza in avian population. While it prevents the immediate spread it is an ineffective strategy as it comes at the expense of long-term detriments: a more genetically susceptible host population, ultimately greater mortality, and elevated influenza virulence (National Library of Medicine).

#13. A highly pathogenic avian influenza virus may cause disease that affects multiple internal organs with mortality up to 90% to 100% in chickens, often within 48 hours. However, ducks can be infected without any signs of illness (CDC).

#14. Heating food, including poultry and eggs, to an internal temperature of 165˚F kills any bacteria and viruses present including avian influenza (CDC).

#15. In October-November 2020, HPAI H5N8 virus was detected in several swans, seals, and a fox in the United Kingdom (CDC).

#16. In February 2023, the Cambodia Ministry of Health reported two human infections with HPAI H5N1 virus, including one fatal case (CDC).

#17. The first description of avian influenza (bird flu) dates to 1878 in northern Italy, when it was described as a contagious disease of poultry associated with high mortality, referred to as “fowl plague” (CDC).

#18. Avian influenza A viruses are further classified into two categories: highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) A viruses (CDC).

#19. The first outbreak of HPAI in poultry in the United States occurred during the fall and winter of 1924–1925. The disease first appeared to have caused severe losses in live bird markets in New York City (CDC).

#20. A novel avian influenza A virus, A(H7N9), was identified in China in March 2013, causing severe illness in humans.  This was the first time that a low pathogenic avian influenza A virus was associated with fatal outcomes for humans (European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control – ECDC).

#21. In 1997, large HPAI H5N1 virus outbreaks were detected in poultry in Hong Kong, and zoonotic (animal to human) transmission led to 18 human infections with six deaths. These were the first recognized H5N1 human infections with fatal outcomes (CDC).

#22. In 2003, 2 tigers and 2 leopards, fed on fresh chicken carcasses, die unexpectedly at a zoo in Thailand. Subsequent investigation identifies a H5N1 virus similar to that circulating in poultry. This is the first report of influenza causing disease and death in big cats (WHO).

#23. In 2004, a domestic cat from Thailand was infected with H5N1 after eating an infected pigeon (WHO).

#24. 2004 research shows that H5N1 has become progressively more lethal for mammals and can kill wild waterfowl, long considered a disease-free natural reservoir (WHO).

#25. 2004 research shows that domestic cats experimentally infected with H5N1 develop severe disease and can spread infection to other cats. Prior to this research, domestic cats were considered resistant to disease from all influenza A viruses (WHO).

#26. 2004 research confirms that domestic ducks can act as silent reservoirs, excreting large quantities of highly pathogenic virus yet showing few if any signs of illness (WHO).

#27. In 2005, H5N1 is detected in 3 captive Owston’s palm civets that died in late June in a wildlife preserve in Viet Nam. This is the first reported infection of this species with the virus. The civets were not fed chicken and the source of infection remains unknown (WHO).

#28. In the spring of 2009, a novel influenza A H1N1virus emerged in humans. It was detected first in the United States and spread quickly across the United States and the world. This new H1N1 virus contained a unique combination of swine, avian and human influenza genes not previously identified in animals or people. This virus was designated as influenza A (H1N1) (CDC).

#29. HPAI A(H5N1) viruses have so far been reported to be sensitive to neuraminidase inhibitors, even though a few viruses of the Egyptian clade showed resistance (ECDC).

#30. In March 2013, human infections with LPAI H7N9 virus were reported in China. These detections were linked to LPAI H7N9 virus in poultry in live poultry markets. While LPAI H7N9 virus infection does not generally cause observable illness in poultry, these viruses caused severe illness and death in people (CDC).

#31. In March 2021, there were reports of HPAI H5N8 virus in seals in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Denmark. Several subtypes of avian influenza viruses (H7N7, H4N5, H4N6, H3N3 and H10N7) have caused epidemics in seals (CDC).

#32. In December 2021, detections of HPAI H5N1 virus were also reported in wild foxes in Estonia (CDC).

#33. In 2022, at least eight U.S. states detect HPAI H5 virus in fox kits. Two bobcats in Wisconsin, a coyote pup in Michigan, raccoons in Washington and Michigan, skunks in Idaho and Canada, and Mink in Canada also tested positive for H5 virus (CDC).

#34. In November and December 2022, H5N1 virus infections were reported in bears in Alaska, Nebraska, and Montana (CDC).

#35. In January 2023, Ecuador reported its first human infection with HPAI A(H5) in a child who became critically ill following exposure to infected backyard poultry (CDC).

#36. In February 2023, the Cambodia Ministry of Health reported two human infections with HPAI H5N1 virus, including one fatal case (CDC).

#37. As of April 2023, more than 40% of the skua population in Scotland and thousands of Dalmatian pelicans in Greece have died in the current outbreak (BBC).

#38. In 2022 avian influenza swept through the UK’s Farne Islands. The disease was seen in 19 of the species that nest here. The impact was greatest on guillemot, kittiwake and puffin populations, with 3542, 818 and 467 carcasses collected respectively though more carcasses were thought to have fallen into the sea (UK National Trust).

#39. 30,000 to 50,000 wild birds may have died of avian influenza on the UK’s Farne Islands in 2022 (UK’s National Trust).

#40. In 2004, China’s agricultural ministry began a large-scale compulsory vaccination programme, covering outbreak areas and places considered to be at high risk (Nature).

#41. In 2011, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization considered six countries to be enzootic (regularly affecting animals) for HPAI H5N1 virus in poultry: Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam (CDC).

#42. Avian influenza is shed in the saliva, mucus, and feces of infected birds and is transmitted to other birds via ingestion or inhalation (The Cornell Lab).

#43. Transmission to songbirds and other typical feeder visitors has been low (less than 2% of all cases reported in wild birds), although this may change with increased testing or changes to the virus (The Cornell Lab).

#44. Since January 2022, there have been HPAI strain detected in 6467 wild birds and 104 wild songbirds (USDA APHIS).

#45. Avian influenza does not affect all types of birds equally. The “highly pathogenic” part of the term HPAI refers specifically to the severity of the disease in poultry, not necessarily in other bird species. For example, waterfowl often carry and transmit bird flu, and with the current strain they sometimes get sick or die. Raptors are much more sensitive to the disease. Domestic poultry are extremely susceptible to HPAI and spread the disease easily, leading to up to 100% mortality of affected flocks (The Cornell Lab).

#46. If someone becomes infected with H5N1 avian influenza and is also infected with another strain of influenza, such as seasonal influenza, the viruses can exchange gene segments and create a new virus that people would not have immunity to and, if person-to-person spread occurred, it could result in a pandemic (Illinois Department of Public Health).

#47. It is estimated that the increase of emerging and reemerging livestock disease outbreaks, including avian influenza, around the world since the mid-1990s has cost the world $80 billion (Pan American Health Organization – PAHO).

#48. Pigeons are unlikely to become infected with avian influenza (New York State Department of Health).

#49. Transmission of the disease is not prevented by the standard flu vaccine. Several vaccines intended for H5N1 were developed, but none are completely effective (The Borgen Project).

#50. The U.S. does stockpile H5N1 vaccines (The Borgen Project).

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