Are Backyard Chickens Mostly Immune to Bird Flu?

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Whether you have backyard chickens or not, you have probably noticed in the news that a current outbreak of bird flu is devastating the American egg and poultry industries. The interesting thing here is that those who keep backyard chickens appear to be mostly untouched by this virus.

Bird flu is similar to any other type of influenza virus, with the exception that bird flu is lethal. It can kill a bird, a chicken, or a man in a matter of days. Unlike other types of influenza, however, this virus is not passed along very easily, and it tends to only affect the humans who work closely with birds. Unfortunately, like most viruses, bird flu can mutate and before we know it, this virus might just mutate itself into a strain that passes easily among humans.

Why is it that backyard chickens are not being affected by this virus? Because birds that are kept in close quarters, such as the way in which most birds are kept in factory farm situations, make the perfect breeding ground for viruses and other types of infectious diseases. This is why when a poultry farm finds even one bird with this virus, the typical response is to kill every bird in the flock.


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This current outbreak in North America is the largest one in history and, so far, has made poultry operators kill more than 40 million birds throughout USA and Canada. However, as of May 14, 2015 the data from the United States Department of Agriculture shows that less than 10 percent of confirmed bird flu cases have been from backyard flocks.

The official reply of the government to any confirmed bird flu case is to drag through the surrounding area to find any other infected birds, including pet birds at residential areas, then test and quarantine any birds in the area.

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