The worst outbreak of avian influenza on record is threatening to stretch into a second year, as the U.S. races to contain a virus that has already caused some food prices to soar amid a shortage of eggs.
Nearly 58 million birds from commercial and backyard flocks have been wiped out in the U.S. since last February, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The virus, known as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza or HPAI, has been difficult to contain because it appears to be more prevalent in wild birds now than during previous outbreaks, making future infections more likely. Additionally, this outbreak has been particularly challenging and extensive, causing shortages and price increases of eggs and turkey meat.
The virus can take commercial poultry farms out of commission for extended periods, and efforts to prevent infections in commercial and backyard flocks are ongoing, but slowing the outbreak has been challenging because the virus seems to have gained a foothold in species of wild birds.
More than 40 million egg-laying hens have been culled in the U.S. alone, causing the price of eggs nationwide to skyrocket.
There is no sign of this changing any time soon!