May 6, 2015


20.4% of chicken population in Wisconsin bird flu-infected



A third commercial chicken farm in Wisconsin state in the US was reported on Monday to have been hit by the deadly H5N2 bird flu virus, raising the estimated total number of affected chickens to 1.1 million, or 20.4%, of the state's egg-laying chicken population, the state agriculture department said.


Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said a fifth commercial turkey farm was also reported Monday to have been infected with the same avian influenza strain. Thus, it said, the total number of affected birds in the Midwestern state is now over 1.8 million.


The national total is estimated at over 22 million affected birds, mostly in the Midwest states.

"In the history of our industry, we've never had an issue of this magnitude," said John Brunnquell, the president of Egg Innovations, an egg-laying company with 60 farms in five states.


Several theories have been floated as to how the virus spreads, with the dominant one being that it can reach a poultry facility by air through feathers, dust or manure blown out of a nearby infected facility's exhaust system, according to Brunnquell.


Brunnquell cited the case of a large chicken operation one of whose 25 barns were infected and in a matter of four to five days the number of infected barns rose to 21.


"Researchers said there is no way they can connect those dots with employees or big trucks. The only way they can connect that rapid of a move is with an airborne process," Brunnquell explained.

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