The current outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has impacted more than 27 million birds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed the presence of the H5N1 strain of the virus in commercial and backyard birds in numerous states. Infections have been documented in 637 wild birds in 31 states. A total of 189 outbreaks have been reported in backyard and commercial birds in 26 states as of April 15. Poultry producers remain concerned at the spread of the virus and are being encouraged to bolster safety protocols.
“The HPAI outbreak is an urgent reminder to all poultry farmers to ensure their biosecurity measures are in place,” American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall said in a news release. “Every effort must be made to protect the health of the animals in our care in order to keep America’s food supply strong.”
The rate of spread appears to be at a quicker pace than the last HPAI outbreak in 2015 in which more than 50 million birds died. However, the increased numbers may be in part due to the improvements to detection and reporting protocols that came about through revisions to the National HPAI Surveillance Plan. In a Market Intel report, AFBF economists have indicated that the Mississippi flyway has been the most impacted by the virus. The Mississippi flyway accounts for nearly half of the detections in commercial flocks. The Central flyway has accounted for 36 percent of detections and 15 percent of detections have occurred in the Atlantic flyway.
The first case of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza that was detected was found in South Carolina in January. In February, the first instance of the virus in a commercial flock was reported in Indiana. Since then, the virus has spread to states such as Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Maine. Some of the largest flocks that have been affected have been in Iowa, Nebraska, and Maryland.