Chickens and COVID-19

People are justifiably concerned about the recent outbreaks of human COVID-19, but there is a lot of misinformation circulating on the internet. One is with regards to chickens. Despite what some news outlets have reported, COVID-19 did NOT originate in chickens and you CANNOT get COVID-19 from chickens. There is some speculation that it originated in bats – another mammal.

COVID-19 is a coronavirus. Yes, chickens get coronavirus – but not all coronaviruses are the same.

The diagram below should give you an idea of what a coronavirus looks like. The projections on the outside of the envelope will determine which species the coronaviruses can attach to. COVID-19 is specific to mammals, not birds. Right now it is mainly human cases that are being detected, although one dog has tested positive.

Diagram of the COVID-19 coronavirus Source:

Coronaviruses are not new. Many livestock and poultry diseases are caused by a coronavirus. For chickens, Infectious Bronchitis (IB) is caused by a coronavirus. IB is not transferred from birds to humans.

So – do not be afraid of your chickens. Good biosecurity is important to keep disease of any kind from your flock. And always wash your hands with soap and water to make sure that you do not get sick with salmonella, a bacteria carried in the intestines of many animals, including chickens (and humans).

3 Replies to “Chickens and COVID-19”

  1. Could covid-19 virus br carried on the skin of hatchery chickens due to being handled by an exposed person in the hatchery? Or could the virus get on the skin while being shipped?

    1. There is no research to show that – but this is a novel coronavirus so nothing is known for sure.
      The actual handling of the chicks by a person is limited.
      I think the down feathers would prevent the coronavirus from getting to the skin.

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