Bird flu takes a summer vacation

2023-08-29 11:05:54

The outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza that killed a record 58.8 million birds in domestic flocks and drove up egg prices in 2022 and early 2023 has faded during the summer months, said USDA data on Monday. Only three outbreaks, totaling 1,860 birds, were discovered since Memorial Day, according to USDA’s online list of confirmed cases.

All three cases were at live bird markets in Brooklyn, New York. Bird flu outbreaks began in February 2022 and by early November of that year, nationwide losses of 50.12 million birds in domestic flocks, mostly egg-laying hens and turkeys being raised for meat, were on par with the mark set in a bird flu outbreak in 2014-15, which has been described as the most significant animal disease event in U.S. history. Iowa, the No 1 egg state, has the highest losses in the ongoing outbreaks, 15.95 million birds.

In June, the USDA transferred $502 million to its animal health agency, saying the funding would allow the agency to be prepared in case of additional outbreaks. The rate of detections was slowing. “However HPAI is still prevalent in many parts of the world and in wild bird populations and the threat remains high,” it said.

HPAI can wipe out a flock quickly so officials kill all the birds in an infected flock to limit the spread of the viral disease. The USDA has advised owners to keep wild birds away from their flocks and to practice biosecurity.