‘Highly pathogenic’ bird flu could drive up prices of eggs, chicken and turkey | WJHL

(NEXSTAR) – The USDA is warning that a “highly pathogenic bird flu” the agency has already identified in three states could spread quickly and wreak havoc on the poultry industry if not stopped. contained.

Bird flu was discovered in a flock of commercial broiler chickens in Fulton County, Kentucky, as well as a flock of backyard birds in Fauquier County, Va., last week. announced Monday the United States Department of Agriculture in a press release.

The virus was also identified in a group of commercial turkeys in Dubois County, Indiana earlier this month. The 29,000 turkeys in this flock were killed to prevent the spread of the virus.

The same fate appears to be in store for the affected Kentucky and Virginia chickens identified last week. “State officials have quarantined the affected premises, and birds on the properties will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease,” the agency said.

Birds from either flock “will not enter the food system,” the USDA added.

If the virus spreads widely and begins to affect more commercial poultry farms, the price of eggs, chicken and turkey would likely be affected. This would be bad news for consumers already facing inflated food prices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that food prices rose 7% in January 2022 from a year earlier.

A bird flu outbreak in 2015 led producers to kill 33 million laying hens in Iowa, the nation’s top egg producer, and 9 million birds in Minnesota, the nation’s top turkey producer. with smaller outbreaks in Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The disease has driven up egg and turkey prices across the country for months, with the cost of eggs rising 61% at one point and prices for boneless, skinless turkey breasts rising 75% between May and July 2015.

“It is definitely considered a high-risk time now that we have a confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the commercial poultry industry,” said Dr. Denise Heard, poultry veterinarian and vice president of research for the ‘U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. “I’m confident we can better deal with this situation and I’m crossing my fingers that this is an isolated case, however, I’m hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.”

There have been no confirmed cases of bird flu infecting humans, the USDA said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sharon P. Juarez