Four of New Jersey’s 30 urban live bird markets
have tested positive for a mild form of avian influenza
during routine testing, but this strain of virus poses
no risk to human health, officials from the N.J. Departments
of Agriculture and Health and Senior Services said
“It is not unusual to find this mild strain
of avian influenza in our live bird markets,” said
Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. “Avian
influenza thrives during the winter months, which
is why we test during this period. Typically about
40 percent of New Jersey’s live bird markets
intermittently test positive during cold-weather
months. When a positive result is found, the markets
are required to clean and disinfect until the virus
has been eliminated. We’re continually working
to ensure that our live bird markets are free of
"The avian influenza subtype H7N2 currently
detected in New Jersey live bird markets is not a
human health threat," said Clifton R. Lacy,
M.D., Commissioner of Health and Senior Services.
Avian influenza are forms of Influenza A that infect
birds. Influenza Type A is a virus that is found
in a variety of different animals and in humans.
Wild birds are the primary natural reservoir for
subtypes of Influenza A viruses.
Avian influenza has two forms: a low pathogenic
form that causes mild illness in birds and a highly
pathogenic form that is extremely contagious and
causes severe illness to birds. Influenza A viruses
are divided into subtypes based on two surface proteins
designated by the letters H and N.
The avian influenza that has been identified in
New Jersey has been characterized as H7N2, which
is a common form of avian influenza found typically
during cold weather months. It is a low pathogenic,
mild form of avian influenza. It has not demonstrated
the propensity to mutate to more pathogenic forms.
There have been no reports of transmission from animals
The Department of Agriculture has rules in place
to keep markets from being infected, including a
requirement that all birds coming into New Jersey
markets must test negative for avian influenza. If
the virus is found despite these precautions, markets
are required to clean and disinfect to eliminate
the virus. Poultry dealers dropping birds off at
markets should also be following recommended biosecurity
practices – for example, changing clothes and
cleaning cages and equipment before returning to
farms – to prevent the spread of the disease.
The Department of Health and Senior Services reminds
everyone to follow the routine recommendations for
prevention of any foodborne illness, including thoroughly
cooking meat, poultry and eggs; avoiding cross-contaminating
one food with another; washing produce before consumption;
and refrigerating leftovers promptly.
The Department of Health and Senior Services and
the Department of Agriculture are working closely
together to educate the public and address avian
flu in New Jersey.
For more information about avian flu visit http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/avianflu/