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Signs of Bird Flu Outbreak Trigger Swift Reactions Across the U.S.

Over the past week, officials have confirmed the discovery of avian influenza in several U.S. poultry facilities.


Over the past week, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the discovery of avian influenza in several poultry facilities.

Monty Rakusen | Getty Images

The USDA first announced its discovery of bird flu in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana last Wednesday. Twenty-nine thousand turkeys were killed in an attempt to stop the spread, but a second flock of 26,473 turkeys near the first infected farm is suspected to have the same virus. The USDA confirmed that the issue was more widespread on Monday, announcing the presence of avian influenza in birds in Kentucky and Virginia.

"As part of existing avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in areas around the affected flocks. The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations," the Monday release said.

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these detections do not present an immediate public health concern. There have only been four cases of human infection with low pathogenic avian influenza A viruses in the United States since 2002, and no human cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza A viruses have ever been found in the country.

Although human infections from bird flu viruses are rare, the economic ramifications can be significant. In 2015, a bird flu outbreak killed 50 million birds across the country. According to AP, the cost of eggs rose more than 60% at one point, and prices for some poultry products rose 75% between May and July 2015. The outbreaks cost the government nearly $1 billion for the removal and disposal of infected birds — making it the most expensive animal health disaster in U.S. history.

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