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Since December 2014, a dangerous new strain of Avian Influenza (AI), also known as “bird flu” has been found in poultry and wild birds in the United States. All poultry owners need to be on the lookout for signs of illness in their poultry and use good biosecurity practices to protect their birds. This influenza strain is deadly to birds but poses NO immediate public health concern for humans. Properly cooked poultry and eggs are safe to eat. 

Outbreak Information

To Report Sick/Dead Poultry: 
New Jersey Department of Agriculture
Division of Animal Health
USDA, APHIS, Veterinary Services Office
609-259-5260 or toll-free 1-866-536-7593
If this is an extreme emergency regarding Avian Influenza after business hours, please call 609-571-0776.

To Report Sick/Dead Wild Birds, Wild Waterfowl, Raptors, Shorebirds or Gulls:
USDA APHIS Wildlife Services
908-735-5654 ext. 2


Click here for Livestock and Poultry Import Requirements.

Should HPAI be detected in the United States, click here for HPAI States Requiring Permits for Poultry and Hatching Eggs Entering New Jersey and click here for Permitting Procedures.

Photo of a roosterAvian influenza is a viral disease of poultry that can be of low pathogenicity (LPAI), causing mild disease with or without clinical signs, or of high pathogenicity (HPAI), causing severe disease and death loss. Wild birds, especially migratory waterfowl (ducks and geese) are passive carriers of the flu virus, meaning they can pass the disease along without becoming seriously ill. Avian Influenza viruses can enter the body by inhalation, ingestion or through other mucous membranes such as the conjunctiva. Feces, saliva and respiratory secretions from infected birds contain large amounts of the virus. Once introduced into a flock, the virus can spread rapidly (within hours).

The HPAI viruses currently in the United States have been found in the Pacific, Central and Mississippi migratory bird flyways. As these flyways overlap, future findings of HPAI in the Atlantic flyway are expected. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture and USDA APHIS Veterinary Services conduct surveillance on commercial operations, on backyard and hobby flocks, in poultry auctions and in the live bird marketing system.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has an emergency response plan in place for the rapid control and elimination of the virus during outbreaks of both LPAI and HPAI. The plan includes provisions for limiting the spread of the disease through increased biosecurity including limiting the traffic to and from the infected premise, increased surveillance in designated quarantine areas, rapid turn-around time for submitted samples and depopulation and disposal for infected birds.

To date, HPAI has not been detected in New Jersey.


LPAI in chickens and turkeys resembles any other mild respiratory disease. With HPAI, birds may die suddenly without any signs of disease. Signs of HPAI may include:

  • Sudden increase in bird deaths
  • Sneezing, gasping for air, coughing and nasal discharge (runny nose)
  • Watery and/or green diarrhea
  • Lack of energy and poor appetite
  • Drop in egg production or soft- or thin-shelled misshapen eggs
  • Swelling around the eyes, neck and head
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and leg

    Photo of sick birds

All poultry owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, need to report sick or unexplained bird deaths to State/Federal officials immediately. For small flocks, this can include deaths of one bird per day for two days in a row.

For more information or to report sick or dead poultry contact: 

New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health
609-671-6400 or 


USDA APHIS Veterinary Services NJ Area Office
609-259-5260 or toll-free at 1-866-536-7593

To Report Sick/Dead Wild Birds, Wild Waterfowl, Raptors, Shorebirds or Gulls: USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, 908-735-5654 ext. 2  


Avian influenza spreads from bird to bird, from manure and from contaminated vehicles, equipment, egg flats and poultry transport crates. The virus can be transported through bird droppings on clothes or boots into poultry houses and bird pens. Help protect your birds by following these practices:

  • Minimize your flock's exposure to wild waterfowl
  • Keep poultry away from water which wild waterfowl use
  • Don t use surface water (such as pond water) as a drinking source for your poultry
  • Always use dedicated foot wear or use disinfectant footbaths prior to entering your bird pens
  • Clean up outside feed spills
  • Only allow essential workers and vehicles to enter your farm; clean and disinfect vehicle wheels before letting them drive onto your farm
  • Don t lend or borrow equipment from other farms
  • Avoid visiting other poultry farms and auctions. If you do, change clothes and footwear before working with your own birds

For more information, click here for “Backyard Biosecurity – How to Protect Your Birds.

Photo of biosecurity for birds


Avian Influenza

USDA Fall 2015 HPAI Preparedness and Response Plan