Food supply and pandemic fears have surfaced amid bird flu strain mutations revelations. Not only are Chinese chickens and ducks passing the latest and perhaps most deadly version of the H7N9 avian flu, the harmful virus is also infecting and killing human beings. The H2N2 bird flu has already infected thousands of turkey flocks in Minnesota alone. Pressure last year to block the importation of Chinese chickens into the United States were met with resistance and ultimately denial, by the United States Department of Agriculture – USDA.
The H5N2 bird flu strain was among the first to cause increased concerns for health and agriculture experts. The flu strain has killed 429 people in 16 countries since 2003 and infected almost 800 more. The H5N2 strain of the bird flu has already killed 15,000 turkeys in Minnesota alone. The most recent pandemic caused by a flu strain was the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009. There are now reportedly 48 different subtypes of the flu virus. H7N- bird flu has killed 227 people since 2013 and infected 622 others.
The United States has some of the most fertile farm land in the entire world. Is there really a need for chicken imports from China in the first place? Protecting the sanctity of the food supply and taking steps to maintain a high level of food safety should be a top priority for the federal government. Relying on second hand information regarding the improvements being undertaken to thwart the various strains of bird flu materializing in China is not exactly reassuring for American consumers.
Growing your own food and stocking up on long term food storage buckets could make a substantial difference in the lives of your loved ones should a bird flu pandemic strike the United States.
“H7N9 viruses have spread from eastern to southern China and become persistent in chickens,” researchers stated during a Journal Nature report. In January of 2014, a petition to ban Chinese chicken was widely circulated and garnered a multitude of signatures. The petition was created amid mounting concerns that Chinese chicken would make its way to American supermarket shelves and decrease food safety. “The expansion of genetic diversity and geographical spread indicates that, unless effective control measures are in place, H7N9 could be expected to persist and spread beyond the region,” the Chinese researchers added.
Although the USDA did not ban chicken from China from being exported to the United States, the Philippines did ban Chinese chicken due to fears that the “highly pathogenic” H7N9 bird flu would be present in poultry arriving in the country. The ban in the Philippines was also urged because food safety failures had occurred multiple times. The food security incidents involving Chinese exports reportedly included “dangerous levels” of mercury being found in baby formula, rat meat sold as lamb, and the discovery of thousands of diseased pig carcasses in the Huangpu River.
The H7N9 bird flu mutation is currently being spread from chicken flocks to duck flocks. Agriculture researchers reportedly feel that the H7N9 mutation poses a “bigger threat” to “humanity” than the former strain. Recent avian flu concerns regarding chicken, duck, and turkey flocks have left some citizens with pandemic concerns. The H7N9 bird flu strain first appeared in China in 2013. Researchers at the University of Hong Kong have stated that unless significant and drastic measures are taken to eradicate the bird flu strain, the virus will mutate further.
The H7N9 bird flu is also reportedly exchanging genes with other types of flu viruses, giving birth to new strains of each virus and increasing the likelihood of a pandemic. The closure of live poultry markets on a permanent basis in China has been recommended. Putting an end to “central slaughtering” facilities and the prevention of the inter-regional transport of poultry are also among the food safety and bird flu recommendations by health and agriculture experts. .
A strain of bird flu, the most lethal to hit the United States, is causing concern for farmers and scientists. The H5N2 strain of the bird flu has already killed 15,000 turkeys in Minnesota alone. The same virus strain has reportedly been detected in birds in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.H5N2 poses a low risk to humans, health officials claim. To date, no H5N2 bird flu infections have been detected in humans anywhere around the globe. The deadly avian flu strain was first discovered in a large commercial flock of turkeys in Pope County, Minnesota. Less than 100 turkeys were left untouched by the bird flu strain on the Minnesota farm. The flock was immediately quarantined and stricken birds killed.
Minnesota is the top turkey producer in the United States. The turkey industry reportedly produces approximately 46 million turkeys each year worth around $750 million. About $92 million worth of turkeys is exported annually.
Turkeys that are part of other commercial flocks and backyard flocks within a six-mile radius of the Pope County farm are being tested for the H5N2 bird flu. So far, no other signs of the virus have been found in the other Minnesota flocks.
We’re encouraged that we’ll be able to prevent the spread of the disease,’ Dr. Bill Hartmann of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health said. ‘We should be able to contain this without much difficulty.’ The H5N2 avian flu virus is reportedly carried by wild waterfowl, which are not impacted by the disease. The bird flu strain incubation period is about 21 days. “‘If we can get through the next 21 days without finding anything, we should be in good shape,” Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said. “We can only prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger maintains that only the four individuals who worked with the H5N2 bird flu-stricken turkeys were placed at physical risk and are being monitored. The health official is not permitted to release the name of the avian flu infected farm in Pope County. “There are no food safety concerns at this time. This is not a threat to the general public,” Commissioner Ehlinger added.According to Ehlinger, like most commercial farms, the infected turkeys were kept inside a barn and never go outside. The turkeys infected with the H5N2 virus all reportedly came from one of the four barns on the Minnesota farm.
Do you think a bird flu pandemic is likely to become a reality in the United States?