This year’s avian flu outbreak is killing a near record number of poultry across the United States, according to agriculture officials.
A new form of the virus, commonly referred to as bird flu, has infected more wild chickens and turkeys in 2022 than ever before. Cullings and infections have killed millions of birds, resulting in export bans and lower production of eggs and turkey while adding to rising inflation, according to Reuters.
Data provided by the United States Department of Agriculture indicates that in the last 2015 avian flu outbreak, approximately 50 million birds were affected. So far this year, 47.6 million birds have been affected, with the disease spreading to 42 states.
Farmers, in some circumstances, must kill entire flocks of birds to stop the disease from spreading. The H5N1 strain of the virus is fueling the North American outbreak as the same subtype ravages Europe.
Currently, Europe is undergoing its worst bird flu outbreak in decades, which has resulted in 50 million poultry culled.
“This virus could be present in wild birds for the foreseeable future,” said Rosemary Sifford, an official with USDA, during an interview with Reuters. “This one is certainly different.”
“Unfortunately, what we’ve done probably hasn’t been enough to protect us from this high load of virus in the wild bird population,” Sifford added.