Wisconsin will kill off 2.7 million chickens to stop spread of lethal bird flu outbreak

Latest order brings total number of birds culled since February to over 6.7 million

Io Dodds
San Francisco
Tuesday 15 March 2022 13:24 GMT
<p>A man stocks up on eggs in Hong Kong on 7 March</p>

A man stocks up on eggs in Hong Kong on 7 March

An entire flock of 2.75 million egg-laying chickens in the US state of Wisconsin will be killed to prevent the spread of a lethal form of bird flu, officials said on Monday.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it had found a concerning strain of avian flu at a commercial chicken farm in the Midwest state, about 50 miles west of Milwaukee.

They said all the farm's chickens would be destroyed in order to prevent any contamination of the human food chain.

“State officials quarantined the affected premises, and birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease,” the USDA’s animal health inspection agency said.

“Birds from the flock will not enter the food system... no human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.”

The agency did not name the company that owns the affected flock.

According to Reuters, this latest cull will bring the total number of commercially raised chickens and turkeys killed in the US since February to 6.7 million amid the biggest outbreak of avian flu since 2015.

That year, nearly 50 million birds were culled, causing temporary spikes in the price of eggs and costing the federal government $1bn (£767m), but the strain of flu involved was not easily transmissible for humans.

Commercial poultry farmers have been on high alert after the virus was detected in eight states including Iowa and Delaware, affecting both egg-laying birds and birds used for meat.

The outbreak comes on top of rising food prices due to the ongoing supply chain crisis and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is a major exporter of grains that feed both people and chickens.

For now, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said the current outbreak poses only a “low risk” to the public and remains “primarily an animal health issue”.

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