Sunday, December 10, 2023

Expert says 2017 bird flu outbreak in U.S. could become much worse

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The U.S. recent bird flu outbreak could rival the 2015 outbreak that cost the U.S. 50 million birds. The disease has led to the culling of more than 250,000 chickens and turkeys already this year and had spread to three states by March 21, almost a week before the first outbreak of 2015 was confirmed on March 27.

Poultry Science Professor Joseph Hess of Auburn University said that the disease is unpredictable even with biosecurity measures in place.

“We’re at the point where it’s a little here and a little there,” Hess said. “It could fade away, but it could blow up into something bigger.”

Although only one of the cases so far have been confirmed with the deadly high-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), the commercial flock that was affected around half the birds infected in the U.S. so far. All the birds with low pathogenic avian influenza were still euthanized as a precaution to ensure the virus didn’t mutate into the more deadly HPAI, except the 84,000 turkeys which were under observation for several weeks.

State officials say that the disease confirmed in the U.S. has not entered the nation’s poultry supply and has no risk of being transmitted to humans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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