Title: Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu Detected in Commercial Poultry Flocks in South Dakota and Utah; Concerns Arise of Future Outbreaks
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reported the detection of highly pathogenic bird flu in commercial poultry flocks in South Dakota and Utah, raising concerns about the potential for future outbreaks. The virus has already affected a significant number of commercial and backyard flocks across the country, totaling approximately 58.97 million birds nationwide.
The first case was confirmed in South Dakota on October 4, where over 47,000 turkeys have been affected and will have to be culled. Just two days later, another flock of 134,200 turkeys in Utah was found to be infected. These recent cases mark the first instances of bird flu in a U.S. commercial flock since April 2022.
Before these October cases, bird flu had been sporadic, primarily affecting backyard flocks and wild birds. South Dakota has borne a heavy burden, with over 123,000 birds depopulated this year alone. The state’s poultry industry faced significant challenges in 2022, as bird flu affected over 3.96 million birds, more than double the number during the 2014-2015 outbreak.
Although bird flu primarily affects animals, there have been four reported cases in humans in the United States so far. However, the viruses circulating in birds are believed to pose low risk to humans. It is still important to exercise caution when working with birds and take appropriate precautions.
The ongoing bird flu outbreak has generated substantial costs for the U.S. government, amounting to approximately $660 million. Furthermore, this crisis has led to increased grocery prices, impacting consumers nationwide. The 2014-2015 outbreak, which affected 50.6 million birds across 15 states, stands as the most expensive animal health disaster in U.S. history.
These current cases are seen as an extension of last year’s outbreak, which originated in Europe and eventually spread to the United States. In response, agriculture officials are strongly urging bird owners to enhance their biosecurity practices to prevent the further spread of avian flu.
As the nation grapples with this ongoing crisis, it is crucial for the poultry industry and authorities to work together in implementing effective measures to contain the spread of highly pathogenic bird flu. Swift action is needed to protect both the livelihoods of farmers and the health of our poultry flocks, ensuring a safer future for poultry farming in the United States.
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