Title: Avian Influenza Outbreak Resumes in the United States
Subtitle: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Continues to Spread, Causing Massive Losses in Poultry Industry
The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) epidemic, which had taken a summer break, has resumed in the United States, inflicting devastating consequences on the poultry industry. Since its re-emergence, the new outbreak cases have caused the death of over 61 million birds and continue to spread across at least 14 states, leaving the industry in a state of distress.
The impact of the outbreak has been particularly severe on commercial turkey operations, which have suffered immense losses. Furthermore, a commercial table egg layer operation in Wright County, MN has been hit hard, reporting losses of a staggering 940,000 birds. These alarming numbers highlight the severity of the situation and the urgent need for containment and preventive measures.
In the months of October and November alone, HPAI has been detected in 25 commercial flocks and at least 6 more are suspected to be affected. In addition, backyard flocks have also been affected with 19 cases reported in October and 4 in November. This signals the urgency for measures to prevent the spread of HPAI from wild birds to commercial and backyard flocks.
Officials at both the state and federal level are urging immediate notification when birds are sick or experiencing unusual deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that the HPAI viruses are widely circulating in wild birds and poultry, emphasizing the need for constant vigilance and reporting.
While there have been few recent human cases of A(H5N1), seventeen sporadic cases were reported in eight countries. However, it is worth noting that these cases had recent exposure to sick or dead poultry, and no human-to-human transmission was identified. Moreover, the single case of A(H5N1) virus reported in the U.S. in April 2022 may not have represented a true infection.
Although some cases were associated with specific clades of HPAI A(H5N1) viruses, none contained known markers of reduced susceptibility to antiviral medications. This underscores the importance of continued research and surveillance to combat the evolving threat of avian influenza.
As the HPAI epidemic resumes its destructive course across the United States, the poultry industry and health authorities must remain vigilant and implement strict measures to contain the spread of the virus. The stakes are high, and concerted efforts are necessary to protect both animal and human populations from the further devastation caused by this highly contagious disease.