Officials say a deadly strain of avian influenza has spread all over the eastern half of the United States, killing commercial flocks of chickens and pigs as well as wild birds, but it poses no threat to humans. Agricultural production officials in Indiana recently revealed that the disease had spread to a sixth commercial turkey farm in the state’s southern region and that they had started euthanizing the farm’s 18,000 birds to prevent the disease from spreading further
According to the US Department of Agriculture, health officials have confirmed 297 detections in waterfowl during the testing in the last few days. More than 20 of the 45 new detections came from live bird testing in New Jersey. The first detection in Alabama is also included in the report. The Department of Agriculture said it is collecting samples in 25 states to monitor outbreaks, collaborating with country wildlife or natural resources departments.
The source of the recent bird flu cases is unknown, but health officials believe the disease is being spread by migratory wild birds. Officials were taken aback by how rapidly the virus killed the animals, claiming that they died within hours of being infected. As of early January, the virus has spread from Florida to Maine, infecting factory farmed animals and migrating birds, geese, and swans, as well as backyard chickens in Virginia and New York.
According to the Center for disease control, no confirmed cases of avian influenza in humans have been identified in the United States. Officials have stated that the avian influenza alerts pose no instant public health risk and that consumers are not required to take any action. As a cautionary tale, bacteria and viruses are killed by properly handling and cooking poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 160+ degrees Fahrenheit, the researchers said.
The poultry industry in the United States could suffer massive financial losses as a result of avian influenza. Between 2014 and 2015, a bird flu outbreak killed or euthanized more than 45 million birds. More than 195 farms in 14 states were affected, costing the industry more than $3.5 billion and driving up the price of poultry and eggs.
Throughout the last six months, new infections of bird flu have been reported in more than 38 countries across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, with 300 outbreaks in 29 European countries in the last few weeks. Thousands of cranes have been killed in Israel at a wildlife sanctuary.