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U.S. in Midst of Deadliest Avian Flu Outbreak Ever, Driving Up Costs for Turkey, Eggs, More

FILE PHOTO: Cage-free chickens are proven at a facility at Hilliker’s Ranch Fresh Eggs in Lakeside. April 19, 2022. Picture taken April 19, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Avian flu has worn out 50.54 million birds in the United States this yr, making it the deadliest outbreak in the nation’s historical past, Agriculture Department knowledge confirmed on Thursday.

The deaths of chickens, turkeys and different birds characterize the worst animal well being catastrophe in the US to this point, beating the earlier report of 50.5 million birds that died in a 2015 avian flu outbreak.

Birds typically die after turning into contaminated. Entire flocks, which might exceed one million birds on egg-laying hen farms, are additionally being culled to regulate the unfold of the illness after a hen assessments constructive.

Loss of poultry shares despatched egg and turkey costs to report highs, worsening financial ache for customers dealing with blistering inflation and making Thursday’s Thanksgiving celebrations dearer in the US

Europe and the UK are additionally struggling their worst hen flu crises, and a few UK supermarkets have rationed prospects’ egg purchases after the outbreak disrupted provides.

The U.S. outbreak, which started in February, contaminated flocks of poultry and non-poultry birds in 46 states, USDA knowledge reveals. Wild birds corresponding to geese transmit the virus often called extremely pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) by means of feces, feathers or direct contact with poultry.

“Wild birds continue to spread HPAI across the country as they migrate, so preventing contact between native flocks and wild birds is critical to protecting US poultry,” mentioned Rosemary Sifford, the USDA’s chief veterinarian.

Farmers have struggled to maintain the illness and wild birds out of their barns after stepping up security and cleansing measures following the 2015 outbreak. In 2015, about 30% of instances had been immediately traced to wild hen origin, in comparison with 85% that yr, the USDA mentioned Reuters.

Government officers are finding out infections, significantly in turkey farms, in hopes of growing new suggestions for stopping an infection. Turkey farms account for greater than 70% of industrial poultry farms contaminated in the outbreak, the USDA mentioned.

People ought to keep away from unprotected contact with birds that look sick or have died, though the outbreak poses a low danger to most people, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mentioned.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Sandra Maler)

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