Avian Flu (Bird Flu)

baby chickens  

** For the current status of Bird Flu in Maryland, see the Bird Flu Blog​ and follow @MdBirdFlu on Twitter. Also, see the Bird Flu Press Kit

Order of the Secretary Concerning Importing Poultry 

Order of the Secretary Concerning Poultry Markets

Background: Avian influenza is a viral disease that can affect bird species throughout the world. The disease can vary from mild to severe, depending on the virus strain involved. The most severe strain is called highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). High path flu is characterized by high, fast moving fatality rates (more than 75%) within infected flocks. Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed many cases of HPAI in both commercial and backyard flocks. There are currently no known or reported cases of High Path Avian Influenza in Maryland. 

Read about confirmed detections of HPAI in 2014-15

​The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections to be low.

This strain is spread by wild migratory birds but may also have other sources as well. Flock owners are urged to practice enhanced biosecurity to protect their flocks. ​If you have more than one sick bird or if several have died suddenly, contact MDA Animal Health at: 410-841-5810. 

“This strain of avian influenza could very well bring economic disaster to our largest agricultural sector if we don’t take steps to protect the birds now. We have every reason to believe that HPAI will enter Maryland, and we are making every effort to keep it out of our commercial chicken houses and backyard flocks. I strongly encourage all flock owners and managers to take this disease as seriously as they have ever taken anything and to practice enhanced biosecurity at all times.”
-- Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder


Important Reading from the Ag Law Center: 
Can a Poultry Producer be Liable for Spreading Avian Influenza.


When HPAI is confirmed, the state works with USDA and other federal partners to execute a response plan. Existing USDA avian influenza response plans follow five basic steps:

  1. Quarantine: Restrict movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area;
  2. Eradicate: Humanely euthanize the affected flock(s);
  3. Monitor region: Test wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area;
  4. Disinfect: Kill the virus in the affected flock locations; and
  5. Test: Confirm that the poultry farm is AI virus-free. USDA also is working with its partners to actively look and test for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.

Read frequently asked questions here.

Read the HPAI Response Plan: The Red Book.​


The Agriculture Secretary has issued an order requiring all hatching eggs and poultry entering from out of state to be tested within 10 days or come from certified clean sources. This quarantine order will remain in effect until at least June 30, 2016.  Any questions, please call the  Animal Health Program at 410-841-5810.

NOTE: For information about HPAI as it pertains to hunting, wildlife and game birds, see the DNR​ website for AI.​
​Federal Resources

Important Studies

State Resources
Biosecurity Materials


Economic Impact of Poultry Industry