Avian influenza in Midwestern layer flocks

KANSAS CITY — The recent discovery of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Midwestern laying flocks has resulted in the destruction of millions of birds and contributed to a sharp rise in egg product prices.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship confirmed a positive case of HPAI in Buena Vista County in a commercial laying flock on March 18. A case in a commercial turkey farm was confirmed in the same county on March 6. An estimated 5.3 million chickens and around 50,000 turkeys were destroyed in the two cases. Another outbreak in Iowa on March 10 occurred on a farm in Taylor County with 916,000 laying hens. Cases have also been reported in Warren and Pottawattamie counties in Iowa. Approximately 3 million laying hens have already been destroyed in a commercial laying flock where HPAI was detected in Wisconsin.

Breakout prices for eggs and egg products rose sharply in March, which trade sources attributed at least in part to concerns about the spread of HPAI. A massive outbreak in 2014-2015 resulted in the loss of more than 50 million birds, representing about 12% of the US table egg-laying population and 8% of the turkey population, and caused the egg prices and egg production for some time. . The industry does not expect such a large outbreak this year, as control measures within and between poultry farms are much stricter than in 2014-2015. At the same time, the industry also recognizes that the spread of the virus by migrating birds cannot be prevented and is expected to subside once the migration period is over.

“The United States has the strongest bird flu surveillance program in the world,” the USDA said. “Through our ongoing wild bird surveillance program, APHIS (USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) collects and tests large numbers of wild bird samples in flyways. North Americans. It is not uncommon to detect avian influenza in wild birds, as avian influenza viruses circulate freely in these populations without the birds appearing sick. In addition to monitoring avian influenza in wild bird populations, APHIS monitors the virus in commercial and backyard birds.

An estimated 12.6 million chickens, turkeys, ducks and possibly other species have been or will be destroyed since HPAI was first reported in early January. Besides Iowa, the nation’s largest egg-producing state, and Wisconsin, cases of HPAI in wild birds, backyard and/or commercial flocks have also been detected in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky. , Virginia, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and York, according to the USDA. The USDA reports the first outbreak of HPAI in a commercial herd in the state, but does not necessarily report subsequent outbreaks in the same state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the HPAI cases do not present an immediate public health concern and no human cases of the virus have been reported in the United States. Cooking poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees kills bacteria and viruses, the CDCP said. However, no meat from destroyed birds goes into the human food chain.