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US Faces Worst Bird Flu Outbreak in its History
A total of 42 million birds have been destroyed so far in the worst bird flu outbreak in US history. The highly pathogenic H5N2 virus is responsible for the current outbreak, however the Centre for Disease Control has confirmed that at this time the strain poses only a low risk to human health, and stress that the virus is destroyed by proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs.
There are 25 egg farms involved across 20 US states, each of which house three to four million laying hens, making up over 10% of the country’s egg production. Experts are still unsure how the virus is being spread and some are concerned that it could eventually move to the east and south of the country, where states such as Georgia and Arkansas have large numbers of broiler hens.
The current situation has also raised questions about biosecurity as Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota admitted, “In the Midwest, we’ve always said our biosecurity efforts were sufficient to deal with this but we’ve never really been challenged,” he said. “Obviously, the biosecurity systems we have are not adequate. We don’t know how and why this is happening, and what do we do about it to prevent it from happening in the future?” In Iowa, one of the worst hit areas, a state of emergency has been extended until July 1st as the authorities struggle to contain the number of new cases.