H5N2 bird flu in America have reached shocking numbers. Hundreds of farm workers are now being encouraged to take Tamiflu for possible exposure to a virus the CDC had previously said posed no human risk. The largest poultry farms in the United States has lost more than 7 million turkeys and chickens, putting the food supply is jeopardy in the process.
While the government staffers are geared up to complete the culling on farms impacted by the bird flu, the CDC is “working through legal issues” regarding the release of medications from the federal government’s stockpile of the Roche anti-viral drug, Tamiflu in an effort to have it used during this H5N2 outbreak. Approximately 3oo individuals in South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota have been told they should take Tamiflu “as a precaution,” according to public health officials. Farm workers in the western states that may have come in contact with H5N2 bird flu infected poultry have been given an anti-viral medication for “preventative” purposes, according to federal government agencies and public health officials.
The bird flu, like other flu viruses, are “highly mutable” and could caused farm workers in “direct contact” with the avian flu infected birds to also become ill. Before breaking news reports about the latest wave of H5N2 bird cullings this week, public health officials had stated that it was “unlikely” that the bird flu strain could be passed from animals to people because of the “genetic make-up” of this particular avian flu strain.
Health officials had stated they were “cautiously optimistic” that human beings would not be affected by the developing H5N2 bird flu strain just days prior to telling farm workers to take a preventative medication. According to Dr. Alicia Fry, a medical officer in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza division, the CDC has reportedly isolated a “pure strain” of the H5N2 virus for possible use in a human vaccine for the avian flu, should such a step ever need to be taken.
Earlier this month approximately 5.3 million Iowa birds were affected by the recent wave of H5N2 avian flu, according to USDA statistics. In just two weeks the number of poultry infections has grown substantially. Iowa has been hard-hit by the bird flu outbreak. South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin also lost millions of birds to the virus, as well.
The birds afflicted with the avian flu will all be euthanized in order to protect other poultry flocks from becoming affected and increasing the negative impact on the United States poultry market. All of the farm equipment and facilities the infected birds came in contact with will reportedly be thoroughly disinfected to prevent the illness from spreading to healthy birds on farms, the USDA stated.
“CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks, and commercial poultry, to be low,” a USDA release maintained last week. Now, public health officials have voiced concerns that the wild bird population could be in danger of contracting the H5N2 bird flu as well.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said the Osceola County commercial poultry farm is one of the “bigger farms in the state.” Northey also noted that when a bird flu outbreak of this magnitude occurs, “you have to make sure the disease doesn’t leave.” Iowa is reportedly the largest egg-producing state in America. USDA statistics note that the 50 million hens in Iowa supply one in every five eggs eaten across the country. “Anybody that has a poultry operation — whether large or small, whether you’ve got hundreds of birds or one bird — this should be a wake-up call,” Iowa Poultry Association Executive Director said Randy Olson,said.
The Iowa bird flu outbreak hit one of the largest egg-laying facilities in America. The commercial egg-laying facility in Osceola County bird flu deaths reportedly “more than doubles” the number of poultry destroyed due to avian flu in the United States to date. The $2 billion commercial egg-laying agricultural industry in Iowa has been on “high alert” since bird flu cases started popping up already this spring.
The USDA has not released either the names nor the specific locations of the Iowa egg producers who have been affected by the bird flu. Operators or their locations haven’t been released. Before the USDA Iowa bird flu announcement this week, about 2.6 million birds had already been killed, either by the bird flu or agricultural authorities. The bird flu is reportedly capable of killing an entire flock of poultry within 48 hours.
Biosecurity safety measures have reportedly been enhanced on American farms with H5N2 infected poultry. Federal government staffers are now “overseeing” the culling of some of the birds infected with the avian flu strain due to concerns about “human health risk.” The staffers who are tasked with putting the birds down have been ordered to wear ventilators and full-body protective suits.
Approximately 35 USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) workers are now present on American farms where the H5N2 bird flu has been found. The massive and rapid spreading of this bird flu strain has reportedly prompted government concerns that the wild bird population could become “permanently infected” with the H5N2 virus. APHIS reportedly has $84.2 million available to fight the avian flu outbreak. APHIS officials have stated that $60 million in indemnity claims will be coming from poultry farmers seeking compensation for culled flocks.
On most the commercial farms where the infected turkeys and chickens were found never go outside and spend their entire life in a barn. The close quarters in which the animals live may have expedited the spread of the H5N2 bird flu at the specific farm locations. The bird flu virus associated with this strain of H5N2 reportedly has an incubation period of 21 days.
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.
The H5N2 bird flu outbreak could cause both a poultry shortage and an increase in prices at the grocery store. The avian flu outbreak illustrates just how fragile our food safety and security are in America. The loss of small family farms that sold their meat, poultry, and produce locally has made the entire nation dependent upon just a handful of agriculture facilities across the nation to put food on their table.
Are you concerned about the H5N2 flu causing a poultry shortage and increasing grocery store prices?