Title: “Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu Detected in Commercial Poultry Flocks in South Dakota and Utah Raises Concerns About Future Outbreaks”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently detected highly pathogenic bird flu in commercial poultry flocks in South Dakota and Utah. This alarming development has raised concerns about the potential for future outbreaks in other regions of the country. The number of virus detections has now reached a total of 328 commercial flocks and 516 backyard flocks nationwide, affecting a staggering total of 58.97 million birds.
On October 4th, bird flu was confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in Jerauld County, South Dakota, impacting more than 47,000 poultry. Shortly thereafter, on October 6th, another infected commercial flock of 134,200 turkeys was identified in Sanpete County, Utah. These are the first cases of bird flu reported in U.S. commercial flocks since April, as prior to these cases, bird flu reports were sporadic and mainly confined to backyard flocks or wild birds.
South Dakota has been particularly hit hard by the bird flu, with three commercial bird farms and over 123,000 birds being depopulated this year alone. This ongoing outbreak has also had an impact on the industry, costing approximately $3 billion in additional costs and lost revenue, and resulting in higher grocery prices for consumers.
Although primarily affecting animals, bird flu has caused four human cases in the United States. However, the viruses circulating in U.S. birds are believed to pose a low risk to people. Nonetheless, precautions should be taken when working with birds, and bird owners are strongly encouraged to increase their biosecurity practices to prevent the contraction of avian flu.
The USDA considers this year’s cases to be part of last year’s outbreak, as the virus has continued to circulate since February 2022. The ongoing bird flu outbreak has already cost the government approximately $660 million, making it the most expensive animal health disaster in U.S. history. In response, the government has paid over $1 billion to address the infected birds and decontaminate farms during the 2014-2015 outbreak.
As this highly pathogenic bird flu continues to pose a significant threat to the poultry industry, it remains crucial for the government, farmers, and bird owners to work together to combat its spread. By implementing enhanced biosecurity measures and closely monitoring poultry flocks, these stakeholders can minimize the impact of future outbreaks and protect the well-being of their birds.
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