Avian Influenza (AI), commonly known
as “Bird Flu” is caused by infection with influenza A viruses. Strains are
classified as low pathogenic (LPAI) or highly pathogenic (HPAI), depending on
their ability to cause disease in poultry. LPAI strains cause minimal to no
signs of disease in domestic poultry. HPAI strains on the other hand, can
result in severe disease with high mortalities in poultry.
Although bird flu viruses mainly infect birds, these
viruses can sometimes infect people and cause illness, ranging from typical
flu-like symptoms to severe respiratory disease leading to death.
It is important to note that flu viruses have the ability
to mutate and adapt, and sometimes these changes result in the emergence of a
novel (new) flu virus that can easily infect and spread between people.
Many species of waterfowl, especially wild geese, ducks
and swans, carry the bird flu virus naturally in their intestines and
respiratory tract without showing clinical signs. Domesticated chickens are
very susceptible to bird flu, which can cause them to be very sick and kill
Infected poultry can show signs such as:
However some infected poultry may not show any clinical signs.
Human infections have mostly
occurred after exposure to infected poultry. This would include direct contact with infected poultry,
or surfaces and objects contaminated by their droppings is considered the main
route for infection for humans.
The majority of human
infections have been caused by H5N1 and H7N9 subtypes.
Currently, the bird flu virus does not appear to transmit
easily from person to person, and sustained human-to-human transmission has not
Yes, the poultry and eggs available in the market are
safe to eat.
All imported poultry, poultry products including eggs,
must come from sources accredited by AVA. As part of accreditation, AVA
assesses the countries to ensure that the country has control measures in place
to ensure that the exported poultry, poultry products and eggs are free of bird
flu. In addition, AVA monitors the outbreaks of
bird flu worldwide and takes measures to suspend sources that have outbreaks of
At the same time, to ensure food supply resilience, AVA also adopts
measures in line with international standards to limit the impact of bird flu
on our food sources. For example, where importing countries have demonstrated
that they have a robust system in place to contain bird flu outbreaks and
prevent the spread to other parts of the country, we limit the suspension to
the region affected by AI. Another risk mitigation measure is heat treatment of
products that inactivates the AI virus
It is safe to consume canned
poultry products and chicken essence. All canned products undergo a heat
treatment process that effectively destroys any viruses.
Given Singapore's current bird
flu free status, and the disease prevention measures and conditions already put
in place, pet poultry kept in Singapore currently do not pose a risk to the
Bird flu can be spread by wild
migratory birds. Owners are to ensure that their pet birds are kept within
bird-proof cages or enclosures with:
Also, owners should not
introduce birds of unknown origin to their existing pet birds.
Anyone who handles pet birds should also practice good hygiene, such as washing
hands thoroughly with soap before and after handling their pets.
Owners should also engage a veterinarian for assistance,
should any birds start showing signs of sickness and/or if they have concerns
regarding the health of the birds.
Up to 10 poultry (including chickens) are allowed to be kept in
private residential premises, and owners are to ensure that the birds are kept
within bird-proof cages or enclosures. Poultry (including
chickens) are not allowed to be kept in HDB flats.
If your pet
bird is sick, bring it to the veterinarian. If you have more than one bird,
separate the healthy birds from the sick birds if possible. The birds could be
kept in enclosures that are not adjacent to each other. As a general
precaution, adopt hygiene practices such as washing hands thoroughly with soap
after handling the birds.
When handling dead pet birds, the following steps must be observed:
Singapore is free from bird
flu. It is safe to visit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and other parks and
reservoirs, as it is unlikely that visitors would catch avian flu from wild
Human infections have mostly
occurred after exposure to infected poultry.
addition, AVA and NParks have an on-going surveillance programme for bird flu
in wild birds at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve where swabs are collected
regularly from wild birds for testing.
AVA has in place measures to prevent the incursion of
bird flu. Preventative measures include banning the import of live birds,
poultry and poultry products from countries or regions affected by bird flu,
biosecurity measures in accredited overseas farms and local farms, inspection
and sampling at points of entry, local poultry slaughterhouses and poultry
farms. Farms and slaughterhouses are also required to ensure that biosecurity
measures are in place, and public are not allowed to visit these
establishments. Additionally, AVA regularly inspects pet shops that sell birds
to ensure they are free from bird flu. Together with relevant agencies, AVA
also conducts regular checks and surveillance on migratory birds as well as
common birds such as crows, mynahs and pigeons.
AVA has a contingency plan to deal an outbreak of bird
flu in Singapore. In the event of an outbreak of bird flu in any of our poultry
farms, AVA will take immediate actions to control and eradicate the disease, in
line with international practice.
All poultry in affected farms will be humanely culled and safely disposed of.
Surveillance and monitoring will also be carried out in the other unaffected
farms to ensure that they are free from bird flu.
Singapore is free from bird
flu. Dogs and cats are
usually not susceptible to bird flu viruses.
Singapore is currently free
from bird flu. As a precaution, members of the public should not touch or feed
In the event that you come
into contact with free-roaming chickens, you should practise good hygiene
habits and wash your hands thoroughly with soap.