This year’s bird flu outbreak is killing a record number of poultry across the United States, according to agriculture officials.
A new form of the virus, commonly referred to as bird flu, has infected more wild chickens and turkeys in 2022 than ever before. Culls and infections have killed millions of birds, leading to export bans and reduced production of eggs and turkey while adding to rising inflation, according to Reuters.
Data provided by the US Department of Agriculture shows that around 50 million birds were affected in the last outbreak of bird flu in 2015. So far this year, 47.6 million birds have been affected, with the disease spreads to 42 states.
Farmers must, under certain circumstances, kill entire flocks of birds to prevent the disease from spreading. The H5N1 strain of the virus is fueling the North American outbreak as the same subtype ravages Europe.
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At the moment, Europe is experiencing its worst case of bird flu for decades, which has led to the culling of 50 million poultry.
“This virus could be present in wild birds for the foreseeable future,” said Rosemary Sifford, an official with the USDA, during an interview with Reuters. “This is certainly different.”
“Unfortunately, what we have done has probably not been enough to protect us from this high load of virus in the wild bird population,” Sifford added.
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The subtype is based in different birds, such as ducks, and it infects the animals for longer periods compared to past outbreaks.
Between January and July, 5.4 million birds died from the virus.
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