Scientists Issue Warning About Bird Flu

Scientists Issue Warning About Bird Flu

( – From commercial turkey and chicken operations to backyard coops that provide a family with eggs, there are tens of millions of birds in the US that Americans raise and eat every year. However, the bird flu, or avian flu, produced by the H5N1 virus, has killed off many such birds and caused widespread disease among flocks. While it mellowed over the winter, experts are now concerned that spring migration patterns could cause it to spread again.

Birds migrate all across North America as they seek out the right climate to raise their families. This year, these birds will carry H5N1 in their bodies, leaving the virus behind in their discard for other birds to pick up. In Chickasaw County, Iowa, the state reported that a backyard coop contracted the virus. In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Iowa Department of Agriculture Spokesman Don McDowell asked “poultry producers and those with backyard flocks to be especially vigilant with their biosecurity.”

To stop the spread of this virus, meat and egg producers have killed 58.6 million birds in the past year. Iowa alone had almost 16 million of those at 25 different factories. This intense decrease in egg-laying birds certainly added to the inflation hitting egg prices this year, which increased about 32% last year. If H5N1 continues to spread, prices could continue to rise.

A drop in chicken egg supply is not the only thing the bird flu could affect, though. Other mammals, such as foxes, sea lions, and even humans, have gotten the virus. Scientists have seen people contracting the H5N1 virus from birds, although they have not yet detected human-to-human transmission.

The current data shows that avian flu kills over 50% of the humans it affects, making it quite deadly if it mutates to jump easily from person to person. While some scientists are developing ways to immunize people from bird flu, such a creation is not yet ready for human trials, making the final product likely years away.

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