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US Bird Flu Outbreak Kills 50 Million Birds

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US Bird Flu Outbreak Kills 50 Million Birds

(CTN News) – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that over 50 million Bird Flu have died as a result of a record-breaking outbreak of avian influenza.

The number of birds slaughtered this year – including chickens and turkeys – has surpassed a previous record set in 2015.

The outbreak has affected flocks in over 40 states, which is more than double the number of states affected in the previous outbreak.

While the risk for humans is relatively low, authorities have warned that safety measures should be taken near birds.

The disease is transmitted by wild birds through feathers, feces, and direct contact.

“Wild birds continue to spread HPAI [highly pathogenic avian influenza] as they migrate throughout the country, so preventing contact between domestic flocks and wild birds is critical to protecting US poultry,” Rosemary Sifford, USDA chief veterinary officer, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), despite the low risk to the general public, it is advising Americans to take “preventative measures” to prevent the spread of the disease to humans, pets, birds, and other animals by avoiding direct contact with wild birds and unprotected contact with poultry.

According to the statement, this applies not only to work environments or wildlife settings, but also to household settings where people have backyard flocks or pets that may be exposed to wild or domestically infected birds.

The CDC’s website warns that although human infection is extremely rare, it can spread when airborne – for example, via droplets or dust – if it gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth or if it is inhaled.

The symptoms of bird flu in humans previously ranged from eye redness to mild flu-like symptoms, to pneumonia and difficulty breathing. In the period 2003 to 3 November 2022, only 868 cases of transmission from Bird Flu to humans were recorded by the World Health Organization (WHO), resulting in 456 deaths.

The recent outbreak in the US has only resulted in one case – a Colorado resident who was directly exposed to poultry. A person reported fatigue for a few days before recovering, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last week’s Thanksgiving holiday in the United States was marred by avian flu-related poultry deaths. American Farm Bureau, a US-based insurance and lobbying group, reported that the price of a traditional Thanksgiving turkey had risen 21% over the past year.

The turkey now weighs approximately 16 pounds (7.5 kilograms) and costs approximately $29 (£24.05).

There have also been recorded outbreaks of avian influenza in the UK, Europe, as well as parts of Africa and Asia.

Global trade, agricultural practices, and migratory wild Bird Flu are believed to be responsible for the wave of outbreaks. Approximately 4.6 million Bird Flu died or were culled between the middle of October and the middle of November alone, according to the organization.

From 7 November, all poultry and captive Bird Flu must be kept indoors due to concerns over the outbreak, as ordered by officials in England on 31 October.

In Northern Ireland, a similar measure came into effect on Monday, and in Wales it will be implemented on 2 December.

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