Millions of birds in at least 17 states are being rapidly killed in a determined attempt to bring a dangerous strain of Avian flu under control. And Avian Influenza outbreaks in the United States during 2022 have already surpassed the minor detections experienced in 2016 and 2017.  

While it’s possible for humans to get sick from Avian flu, it rarely happens. Anyone who works with poultry, however, should be on guard.

In roughly doubling in the last month, the question is whether the 2014-15 record will hold. That was when the U.S. endured its largest animal health emergency when more than 200 cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) were found in commercial and backyard flocks and some wild birds.

Experts say Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is a serious disease and requires a rapid response because it is highly contagious and often fatal to chickens.

This time, since HPAI was found in commercial turkeys in Indiana on Feb. 3, another 50 outbreaks in commercial poultry and backyard flocks are confirmed Avian flu outbreaks, according to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Almost two dozen of the the 2022 outbreaks involve the backyard flocks of hobbyists, but the rest are HPAI outbreaks involving American commercial poultry concentrated in midwest and eastern states.

Avian flu is spreading around the world. During the opening weeks of 2022, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) found a total of 317 new outbreaks in poultry were reported by 25 countries and territories: Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea  Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Vietnam.

OIE data suggests that the spread of Avian flu peaks early in the year and then trails off through September when it begins to rise again.

One thing is certain, millions of birds are being euthanized. In 2014-15, more than 50 million birds were killed to control the virus.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have not detected any human cases of H5N1 so far in 2022.

“Based on past experience with earlier H5N1 bird flu viruses — and what is known about this group of viruses from existing epidemiologic and genetic sequence data — CDC believes the health risk to the general public is low,” said a spokesman. The concern is that continued spread among birds could give the virus more possibilities to pick up new mutations and become a risk to people.

2022 Bird Flu Outbreaks, United States:

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