THE bird flu killed 50.54 million birds in the United States in 2022, making it the deadliest outbreak in the country’s history, USDA data showed Thursday.
The deaths of chickens, turkeys and other poultry represent the worst US animal health disaster to date, surpassing the previous record of 50.5 million birds that died in a bird flu outbreak in 2015.
Birds often die after becoming infected. Whole flocks, which can exceed a million birds on farms, are also culled to control the spread of the disease after detection of a bird infected with the virus.
The loss of poultry batches has sent egg and turkey prices to record highs, worsening economic woes for consumers facing soaring inflation and making Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday , more expensive in the United States.
Europe and Britain are also suffering their worst bird flu bouts. Some British supermarkets have rationed customers’ egg purchases after the outbreak disrupted supplies.
The US outbreak, which began in February, has infected poultry and non-poultry flocks in 46 states, USDA data show. Wild birds such as ducks transmit the virus, known as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), through their droppings, feathers or direct contact with birds.
“Wild birds continue to spread HPAI across the country as they migrate. Therefore, preventing contact between domestic flocks and wild birds is critical to protecting US poultry,” said Rosemary Sifford, director of veterinary medicine for the USDA.
Farmers struggled to keep the disease and wild birds out of their barns after increasing safety and cleaning measures following the 2015 outbreak. That year, around 30% of cases were directly attributed to wild birds, compared to 85% this year, the USDA told Reuters.
Government officials are studying infections on turkey farms, in particular, in hopes of developing new recommendations to prevent infections. Turkey farms account for more than 70% of commercial poultry farms infected in the outbreak, the USDA said.
People should avoid unprotected contact with birds that appear sick or have died, although the outbreak poses a low risk to the general public, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
(Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Sandra Maler)
Source: CNN Brasil
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