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About 53 million wild aquatic birds, commercial poultry, and backyard or hobbyist flocks have been killed as of Tuesday because of bird flu viruses.
Millions of birds have been killed in the United States because of the deadliest bird flu outbreak in history, which has in turn prompted poultry and egg prices to soar. To control the spread of the disease, entire flocks, which can top a million at chicken farms, are usually culled after one of them tests positive.
On Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Agriculture announced that 140,000 birds will be killed in the state, which ranks No. 1 in the United States for egg production.
In 2015, 50.5 million birds in 21 states died due to bird flu strains H5N2 and H5N8, which were deemed highly pathogenic avian influenza by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making it the largest bird flu outbreak in U.S. history.
About 53 million wild aquatic birds, commercial poultry, and backyard or hobbyist flocks have been killed as of Tuesday because of bird flu viruses, making it worse than the outbreaks in 2014 and 2015.
"Avian flu this year results in record bird kills; raising consumer prices for eggs and poultry," Food Safety News, an online news publication focusing on food safety, reported on Monday.
A wildlife vet is worried a strain of bird flu currently circulating the US and the UK could have a devastating impact on wild native bird populations, if it reaches New Zealand.https://t.co/Qiq2Yt6VOf
"This year's deadly avian flu outbreak has busted through all previous records, killing so many birds that shortages are contributing to egg and poultry price increases for U.S. consumers who are already plagued by food inflation not seen in 40 years," said the report.
Bloomberg agreed that the "highly pathogenic virus has prompted turkey and egg prices to soar." Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed egg prices jumped by 10 percent from September to October and continued to rise.
The bird flu has caused a range of illnesses in humans before so that the CDC urged caution when interacting with birds. The USDA also reminded consumers to cook all poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165.F (73.9-degree centigrade) as a general precaution.
Luckily, the United States only reported one case of human infection by bird flu this year. According to the CDC, the patient, a poultry farm worker in Colorado, was treated with antivirals on an outpatient basis and only suffered from fatigue.