Amid the recent outbreaks of avian influenza in North America, university extensions have published news releases and blogs about the disease, most aimed at explaining the outbreaks to consumers and backyard poultry farmers.

A recent news release from Michigan State University Extension points out that, “… consumers don’t need to worry about contracting avian influenza (sometimes erroneously referred to as ‘bird flu’) from eating or handling poultry or eggs.”

The release goes on to explain that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers avian influenza pathogens to be a low-risk contagion for humans and that consumers should continue to follow proper handling and cooking methods for poultry.

"Extension always offers research-based information, and we try to deal with current events and any information that is pertinent for consumers' health and well-being," said Eileen Haraminac, educator with the Michigan State University's Extension program, in an interview with WATTAgNet.

University of Iowa Extension and Outreach published a similar news release, stressing for consumers that poultry and poultry products are still safe to eat during the outbreak.

Mainstream media outlets often refer to "avian influenza" as "bird flu," a term not regarded as strictly accurate among the poultry industry, but one that some consumers have become familiar with in the news.

Extension programs also reaching out to backyard poultry farmers

University of Illinois Extension published a release, also posted in several of its educators’ blogs, about being alert for spotting avian influenza in flocks, mostly aimed at backyard poultry farmers.

The release notes that while “No avian influenza has been confirmed in Illinois … it has been confirmed in the bordering states of Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin,” resulting in a need for farmers to be particularly mindful of the disease, which is affecting flocks in various states across the country.

To learn more about the recent avian influenza outbreaks, visit WATTAgNet’s Avian Influenza update page, which includes a link to our North American avian influenza tracker map.