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Avian flu spreads in US poultry industry

The 2014-15 outbreak is considered the most destructive outbreak in the nation’s history. It sent poultry and egg prices skyrocketing and cost the industry more than $3 billion — even though the federal government compensated farmers for lost herds. In the end, nearly 50 million birds were killed by the virus or culled to prevent its spread, the majority of which were in Iowa and Minnesota.

John Burkel, 54, a fourth-generation turkey farmer in northern Minnesota, watched the contagion with trepidation. In 2015, the virus tore through his farm in just a few days, leaving only 70 people alive in a barn containing 7,000 birds. The following weeks were spent culling, incubating the corpses and then continuously disinfecting the barn.

As a precaution, health officials also advised him and his son to take a course of the antiviral drug Tamiflu. “We have never seen a virulent virus,” said Mr. Burkel, a state legislator who works on the farm with his wife and two children. “It’s just horrible.”

Since then, agriculture officials around the country have pushed farmers to adopt a series of biosecurity measures to prevent disease outbreaks. These include sealing small holes that could allow rats or sparrows to enter the barn, disinfecting feed truck tires before they enter the farm, and creating “clean” and “dirty” areas. where workers can change into new clothes and shoes before stepping inside an animal barn.

At the same time, experts say, federal officials have beefed up a nationwide surveillance system that allows researchers to track, in near real time, the spread of bird flu in populations. wild bird. “I think the 2015 crisis made it worse,” said Dr. Yuko Sato, an avian veterinarian at Iowa State University who advises local farmers on improving biosecurity practices. We realized that a village was needed to prevent an outbreak.

But high vigilance has its limits, especially against a microscopic pathogen that can enter the cage on the foot of a housefly. For more and more scientists, the real threat is the nation’s industrialized meat and dairy production system, with its reliance on genetically identical organisms packed by thousands inside giant cages.

Nearly all of the nine billion chickens raised and slaughtered in the United States each year can be traced back to a few varieties has been crafted to create rapid growth and fuller breasts. Birds are also particularly vulnerable to disease outbreaks. “They all have similar immune systems, or lack immune systems, so once the virus enters the barn, it spreads,” said Dr. Hansen, public health veterinarian. spread like wildfire,” said Dr. Hansen, public health veterinarian.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/science/avian-flu-us-poultry.html Avian flu spreads in US poultry industry

Fry Electronics Team

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