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U.S. Egg Farming Industry Suffers Devastating Blow From Bird Flu

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The U.S. egg farming industry has been hit hard by the latest outbreak of avian or bird flu, which started in the country in December 2014.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 infections have been reported in domestic poultry, wild birds and in captive wild birds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that the H5 bird flu virus has been detected in 20 states across the U.S.

Bird flu viruses have affected about 33 million chicken, ducks and turkey in the U.S. The Center Fresh Group, one of the leading egg producers in the U.S. has been asked by authorities to cull more than 5.5 million chickens in its 26 barns.

Avian flu has also been confirmed in 1.7 million chickens in Nebraska and about 24 million birds in the state of Iowa.

On Thursday, May 14, South Dakota based poultry farm Dakota Layers, revealed that 1.3 million of its chickens may be infected with the disease and will have to be culled and disposed.

"Unfortunately, as many poultry farms are discovering, even our extraordinary measures proved ineffective in preventing the spread of avian influenza into one of our barns," says Scott Ramsdell, the Chief Executive Officer of Dakota Layers.

The poultry farm produces over 90,000 eggs each day and ships nearly 70 percent of its produce to California.

The latest bird flu outbreak is a devastating blow to the egg farming industry in the U.S. and it will cost the industry millions of dollars.

Chances of human infection are very low. The CDC reveals that people who are in close contact with the infected birds for long periods of time are more likely to get infected with bird flu. Till now no human infection has been reported in the U.S. However, some countries have reported serious illness or even death due to bird flu infection in humans.

A recent report revealed that CDC has recommended that farmers exposed to infected birds should take oseltamivir, which is marketed under the trade name Tamiflu by Roche, as a precautionary measure. However, many farmers have declined to take the drug as a protection against avian flu.

Photo: Christy McDonald | Flickr

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