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Bird flu spreads to major poultry producing states Arkansas and Alabama

Dive Brief:

  • Two major U.S. poultry producing states are reporting their first outbreaks of bird flu in a year as the country sees a resurgence in cases.
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza affected a commercial flock of 31,600 breeder pullets, or young hens, in Arkansas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Oct. 31. In Alabama, around 47,900 breeder pullets were impacted as of Nov. 2.
  • Cooler weather and the autumn migration of wild birds has led to a reemergence of bird flu in the U.S. The disease was reported at 25 commercial flocks in the last 30 days, with 14 states reporting cases.

Dive Insight:

More than 60 million birds have died since 2022 in what’s considered the worst bird flu outbreak in U.S. history. Last year, the disease led to a major rise in egg prices and sparked trade embargoes on U.S. poultry exports.

Alabama and Arkansas are the second and third largest producers of birds raised for meat production, respectively. Tyson Foods, the largest poultry processor in the U.S., is headquartered in Arkansas.

Some countries automatically ban imports from the U.S. states or counties that report cases of bird flu, raising the prospect of substantial economic losses for exporters. Mexico said Nov. 1 it would place import restrictions on poultry products from the Alabama and Arkansas counties where the cases were found.

Last month, the U.S. confirmed its first case of avian flu on a commercial farm since April. The disease wiped out 1.36 million birds in October, commercial or otherwise.

Although avian flu does not normally infect humans, it is lethal to birds. Officials in Arkansas said the commercial farm that reported cases is under quarantine to prevent the spread to other flocks.

“We have taken immediate action to contain this disease and will continue to work with poultry growers, the industry, and our laboratory partners to protect against its spread,” Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward said in a statement.

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