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December 26, 2023
Over 1.5 million egg laying hens have been depopulated in the past week, according to USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS). A table egg laying operation of 243,300 birds in Merced County, California, and a table egg laying operation of 497,700 birds in Sonoma County, California, both detected the virus. An egg laying operation of 800,000 birds in Rice County, Kansas, was also being depopulated following confirmation of the virus.
Two large turkey operations also contributed to growing numbers of birds affected by the virus. One operation of 73,700 birds was confirmed in Merced County, California, while another turkey operation of 47,900 birds in Muskegon County, Michigan, detected the virus.
According to APHIS, the running tally of birds in the U.S. affected by avian flu since February 2022 is 77.19 million birds. This is up from approximately 64 million birds at the end of November.
Many regions of the U.S. experienced a lull this summer, but a resurgence has occurred due to migrating wild waterfowl. Commercial and backyard flock owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds.
HPAI is a contagious viral disease that can infect chickens, turkeys and other birds and can cause severe illness and/or sudden death in infected birds. Poultry owners should attentively monitor your birds for symptoms of HPAI which include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and other signs of respiratory distress; lack of energy and appetite; decreased water consumption; decreased egg production and/or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs; incoordination; and diarrhea. Avian influenza can also cause sudden death in birds even if they aren’t showing other symptoms.
Sick birds or unusual deaths among birds should be immediately reported to state or federal officials.
Biosecurity resources, as well as additional information, is available from APHIS here.
Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.
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