Bird flu is now a global plague

The FairPlay Bulletin has noted several times the impact of avian influenza (bird flu) on South Africa, and on poultry producing countries in Europe.

However, like the coronavirus pandemic, bird flu is now a rapidly spreading global problem. It is ravaging poultry flocks in the United States in what is the worst outbreak there since 2015. The numbers are shown on a tracking site maintained by the US Department of Agriculture.

Noting the rapid increase, says that since mid-January this year, bird flu has been found in 23 US states totalling 17 million birds. It also reports that numerous countries are imposing bird flu bans on imports from the US.

While the bird flu virus has spread across Europe and Asia, and is now in the US and Canada, so far exempt has been Brazil – the world’s largest poultry producer and exporter.

Brazil is the largest supplier of chicken to South Africa, supplying 78% of SA poultry imports in January, most of it mechanically deboned meat, or MDM. The US was second, with 8.7%, nearly all of which was bone-in portions such as leg quarters.

Image: A CDC scientist harvesting the H7N9 virus for research purposes. Image courtesy of the CDC.