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Click HERE for updates and information on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

Privatley owned poultry who show clinical signs of HPAI should be reported to the Illinois Department of Agriculture at 217-782-4944 or USDA APHIS Veterinary Services at 1-866-536-7593

Report sick or dead wild birds (5 or more) to your local IDNR District Wildlife Biologist or USDA Wildlife Services at 1-866-487-3297

Illinois defines poultry as domesticated fowl, including chickens, turkeys, waterfowl, and game birds, except doves and pigeons, which are bred for the primary purpose of producing eggs or meat.  

Examples of waterfowl include domesticated fowl that normally swim such as ducks, geese and swans.  Examples of game birds include pheasants, pea fowl, partridge, quail, grouse, and guineas. Poultry may also include ostriches, emus, rheas, and cassowaries. 

Important Links for Poultry Producers

Health and Disease Information

Salmonella Pullorum

Salmonella Pullorum (S. Pullorum or Pullorum disease) was once common but has been eradicated from most commercial poultry in the United States. It may still be seen in small backyard/hobby flocks as well as avian species other than chickens and turkeys such as guinea fowl, quail, and pheasants.

Infections with S. Pullorm usually cause very high mortality in young chickens and turkeys within the first 2-3 weeks of age. In adults, the mortality may be high, but frequently there are no clinical signs. Transmission can be vertical (transovarian) as well as direct or indirect from contact with infected birds (respiratory/fecal) or contaminated feed, water, or litter. Transmission between farms is due to poor biosecurity. 

Affected poultry are typically less than 4 weeks of age. Clinical signs include huddling near the heat source, anorexia, weakness, and white feal pasting around the vent (diarrhea). Survivors are typically small and become asymptomatic carriers with localized infection in the ovaries. Some eggs laid by such hens result in infected offspring. Adult birds infected with S.Pullorum normally show no outward evidence of infection, but they are disease carriers for life. 

Diagnosis requires serologic testing to detect positive birds, and isolation, identification, and serotyping are essential to confirm infection. Freedom from infection and elimination of positive birds and flocks is critical to control and eradication. Treatment will not eliminate the carrier state and is never recommended.

The National Poultry Improvement Plan outlines the official testing recommendations for poultry in the United States. NPIP was established in the 1930s to coordinate state programs aimed at eliminating Pullorum disease from commercial poultry. 

More information on the National Poultry Improvement Plan and how to become a member in Illinois can be found HERE

Avian Influenza

Ratities (ostriches, emus, kiwis, cassowaries and rhea) transported into Illinois must test negative for Avian Influenza within 10 days prior to entry into Illinois.

Avian Influenza (AI) is caused by an influenza type A virus which can infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl) and wild birds (especially waterfowl).  The virus can be classified as low pathogenic (LPAI) and highly pathogenic (HPAI) forms based on the severity of illness they cause.  Chickens and turkeys with LPAI may not show any signs of illness or they may show mild signs such as sneezing, coughing and discharge from their eyes or beak.  HPAI virus strains are extremely infectious, often fatal to chickens and can spread rapidly from flock to flock.  

LPAstrains occur naturally in wild migratory waterfowl such as ducks and geese, and shorebirds without causing illness.  Symptoms of LPAI in domestic poultry include:

  • Minor sneezing or coughing
  • Minor discharge from eye or beak
  • Decreased food and water intake
  • Decreased egg production
  • Deformed eggs

If chickens and turkeys come into contact with waterfowl that carry LPAI, they can become infected.  Once infected, there is a chance that it can become more severe and change into HPAI.  Symptoms are then much more severe:

  • Severe lethargy
  • Severe difficulty breathing
  • Blood tinged discharge from eyes or beak
  • Unfeathered skin appearing blue on the head, comb and wattle (and snood in turkeys)
  • Swollen combs, wattle or shanks
  • Decreased food and water intake
  • Decreased egg production or deformed shell-less eggs
  • Sudden death

Avian Influenza usually cannot be transmitted to people, however rare cases have been reported.  Infected birds shed the virus in their secretions (saliva, mucous and feces).  Human infections may occur when they are exposed to enough virus, or are sick with a human influenza virus and are working with birds who are shedding LPIA/HPAI.  Virus is spread from sick birds to healthy birds by contact with the secretions of sick birds (feces and secretions from eyes/nose/mouth) or contaminated equipment and clothing. Ensure you are practicing good biosecurity when working with your flock.  

Disease images can be found on the Center for Food Security and Public Health Webpage about HPAI Avian influenza is a reportable disease. Immediately report animals with any of these signs to state or federal animal health officials.  For more information on LPAI/HPAI in poultry,  visit the USDA APHIS website on Avian Influenza. For more information on avian influenza in people, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health

Virulent Newcastle Disease (vND)

Formerly know as Exotic Newcastle Disease, Virulent Newcastle Disease (VND) is a serious, highly contagious viral disease that can affect poultry and other birds. Chickens can get very sick and die suddenly while other domestic poultry such as turkeys can also become ill.  Waterfowl can naturally carry VND and usually don't show any signs of illness.  VND poses a rare risk to humans as it may cause eye inflammation and mild fever-like symptoms.  There is no food safety concern.  

Virus is spread from sick birds to healthy birds by contact with the secretions of sick birds (feces and secretions from eyes/nose/mouth) or contaminated equipment and clothing. Ensure you are practicing good biosecurity when working with your flock.  

Symptoms of VND include:

  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Discharge from eyes/beak
  • Decreased food/water intake
  • Decreased egg production
  • Swelling of the skin around the eyes and in the neck
  • Greenish, watery-diarrhea
  • Severe neurologic signs (tremors, drooping wings, twisting of the head and neck, circling or complete stiffness)
  • Sudden death and increased death loss

Disease images can be found on the Center for Food Security and Public Health Webpage about VND.  Virulent Newcastle Disease is a reportable disease.  Immediately report animals with any of these signs to state or federal animal health officials.  For more information on LPAI/HPAI in poultry,  visit the USDA APHIS website on Virulent Newcastle Disease

See a list of all reportable diseases of livestock at the link above.


Biosecurity is the process of protecting farms and livestock from infectious diseases.  Producers should create and carry out biosecurity plans specific to their farms and livestock. Diseases can be introduced in many ways and a good plan addresses all known routes of disease transmission. Biosecurity plans will look different depending on the size/type of flock you maintain (small/exhibition vs. commercial).  

USDA Defend the Flock - an education program to provide the tools and resources you need to ensure that you are doing everything possible to keep your birds healthy and reduce the risk that an infectious disease will spread from your property to the other flocks.  

Foreign Animal Disease Response

Detection, containment and eradication of a foreign animal disease will rely upon effective state and federal coordination and collaboration with the industry stakeholders and producers in Illinois and across our state borders.  Early detection is critical to a successful response, therefore suspected foreign animal diseases should be immediately reported to your herd veterinarian, the Stave Veterinarian or the USDA Area Veterinarian In Charge. 

Monday through Friday (8am-4:30pm)

Illinois Department of Agriculture at (217) 784-4944 or the USDA APHIS VS Illinois District Office at (217) 547-6030.  

After Hours (24 hour answering service)

Illinois Emergency Management Agency at (800) 782-7860

The primary goal is to successfully eradicate the disease as quickly as possible.  Illinois continues to work with the industry, producers and partner agencies to develop plans to respond to foreign animal diseases. Each diseases has unique response critical activities which include:

  • Identification of infected and at risk premises through epidemiologic tracing and investigation
  • Containment of disease
  • Depopulation of infected herds
  • Environmentally sound disposal of carcasses and other infected products
  • Cleaning and disinfection using environmentally safe products
  • Timely dissemination of public information
  • Implementation of continuity of business plans (enhanced biosecurity, testing and permitted movement)
  • Surveillance

More Information:

Traceability and Animal Identification

Animal Disease Traceability and Premises Identification 

  • Go to the page above to obtain the form to register your livestock premises or to find information on animal identification requirements