Australia has developed industry plans (called biosecurity plans) to prevent avian influenza viruses gaining entry to commercial poultry flocks. The plans are aimed at limiting possible contact between wild birds and domestic poultry through contaminated water and food supplies and transfer of infection by the mechanical movement of infection on fomites such as on the clothing and footwear of persons and on equipment, containers, vehicles etc. Treatment of surface water by chlorination to inactivate the virus is essential if it is to be supplied to poultry and aviary birds
Generally, outbreaks of AI infections in poultry or wild birds have not been associated with cases of human influenza. However cases of human influenza due to H5 and H7 subtype HPAI viruses have been recorded in a few humans associated with recent poultry outbreaks in Europe (2003), eastern Asia (1997–2006) and western Asia (2006).
Human pandemic influenza occurs irregularly, having occurred in 1919, 1957 and 1968 when strains of influenza virus with a novel haemagglutinin type adapted to humans and spread rapidly around the world. It is feared that another human pandemic will arise from the current AI outbreak in eastern Asia. Illness and death have been associated with outbreaks of HPAI viruses of both H5 and H7 subtype, particularly the H5N1 virus in eastern Asia. The pandemic of human influenza will not occur until there have been mutations in the poultry H5N1 virus or its recombination with a human influenza virus that will allow the resulting virus to easily infect and transmit between humans. To this time, contact with live infected birds or their manure has been necessary for infection to establish in humans and few human cases have infected other humans in contact with them. A pandemic cannot commence without an AI virus acquiring the ability to easily infect and spread between humans. Avian influenza in birds and human pandemic influenza can be expected to be caused by genetically different viruses.
The recognised source of AI infection for humans is direct contact with infected live birds or their manure, so poultry products are relatively safe. Handling raw poultry meat products or eggs and eating cooked poultry products have not been recorded as causing infection. Cooking poultry products in the normal way destroys AI viruses
All commercial, domestic and wild bird species are susceptible to infection with AI viruses but disease outbreaks occur more frequently in chickens and turkeys. LPAI viruses are traditionally spread by migratory wild birds. Many species of waterfowl, especially geese, ducks and swans, carry the virus but generally show no signs of disease. The recent HPAI outbreak in eastern Asia has seen the H5N1 virus cause disease and high mortality in ducks, geese, swans and other wild birds.