Officials confirm increasing bird flu outbreaks across California and other states, jeopardizing national poultry and egg supplies.
Avian flu, or bird flu, has been causing bird deaths for decades, but it had notable outbreaks in 2004 and 2005. The current outbreak, the most severe in U.S. history, began in Feb. 2022 on a Midwest poultry farm.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that overall, since 2022 over 79 million birds have been impacted, with a notable increase to 11.4 million last month, up from 1.3 million in October. Currently there are 25 commercial and 22 backyard flocks affected, with 3.3 million affected birds in California alone.
The recent spike in highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has led poultry providers to euthanize hundreds of thousands of chickens and ducks in Sonoma County, Marin County, and Merced County in California. Other states, including South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Arkansas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, have also reported outbreaks.
UC Davis Professor Dr. Maurice Pitesky tells CBS News that these figures are worrying, and there's a potential for another rise in poultry and egg prices.
"This is, at some level, an existential issue for the commercial poultry industry," said Dr. Pitesky. "It's going to take some time for the industry to adapt to this new reality. But unfortunately, I think, we're in kind of a new world in the United States with respect to the risk."
Last year's outbreak led to egg shortages and high prices. The Wall Street Journal's report echoes Dr. Pitesky's concerns that a repeat might happen this year, with egg prices, although still half of last year's, rising by 12% in the last month.
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