USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reported on Monday about a worsening Avian influenza crisis in the United States. APHIS reports that more than 22.8 million birds have had to be put to death in the past two months because of the influenza Type A virus (influenza A).
The disease is reported in 118 flocks, including 46 backyards and 72 commercial flocks in 24 states. To view a list of birds identified by date and state, click here.
Only one human infection is reported worldwide in a person who works with a large number of domestically kept birds in the United Kingdom. That person tested positive for avian flu, but was asymptomatic and is no longer considered infectious by the World Health Organization.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of infection among humans is low. The agency notes that those working with birds or exposed to them in the wild are at a higher risk of infection than the general public.
Wild birds spread avian flu around the world, especially in major flyways with their droppings. The wild ducks and geese may show no signs of the illness. Scientists, however, have tracked the virus to poultry barns, equipment, and people who work with birds, along with mice, small birds, and ground dust.
The record for avian flu in the United States was set in 2014-15 when 50 million chickens and turkeys were put to death at 200 poultry farms in 15 states. The disease in 2014-15 cost the poultry industry $3 billion and required another $1 billion in federal spending.
Egg and poultry prices jumped then and are doing so again.
Properly cooked poultry and eggs remain safe to eat. Birds are removed from the food chain as soon as are positive for avian flu. The culling protocols are quick and aggressive.
Because 9 billion broilers are raised every year, industry experts do not expect this round of avian flu to have too much impact on production or prices. About 3 percent of egg-laying chickens are impacted by the flu.
More detailed information on U.S. avian flu outbreaks, including the number of flocks and birds infected, can be found here.
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