Bird flu outbreak the worst in US history

This year’s outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) in the United States is the worst in the country’s history, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Official data showed bird flu had wiped out 50.54 million birds in the US this year, Reuters reported.

“The deaths of chickens, turkeys and other birds represent the worst animal health disaster in the US to date, topping the previous record of 50.5 million birds that died in an avian-flu outbreak in 2015.

“Birds often die after becoming infected. Entire flocks, which can number up to a million birds in egg-laying chicken farms, are also culled to control the spread of the disease after a single bird tests positive.”

The news agency said the loss of chicken flocks has sent prices for eggs and turkey meat to record highs in the US. Europe and Britain are also suffering their worse avian flu crisis, and some British supermarkets are rationing customers’ egg purchases because of disrupted supplies.

The US outbreak, which began in February, has infected poultry and non-poultry flocks in 46 of the country’s 50 states, according to USDA data. Wild birds such as ducks transmit the virus, known as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), through their droppings, feathers or direct contact with chickens.