US high-path avian flu poultry losses reach 2015 record

Over the past few days, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reported more highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks in five states, which put the nation's poultry losses for the year at 50.5 million, which ties the record set in the outbreaks of 2015.

One of the latest outbreaks involved a turkey farm housing 29,200 birds in South Dakota's Beadle County. In Utah, the virus struck a petting zoo and exhibition farm in Utah County that houses 270 birds. Elsewhere, outbreaks affected backyard birds in Missouri, Maine, South Dakota, and North Carolina.

The outbreaks involve a Eurasian H5N1 strain that first cropped up in US poultry in February, eventually spreading to 46 states so far.

The virus has fueled outbreaks in multiple world regions. The World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) in its latest monthly situation report, which covers avian flu outbreaks Oct 12 through Nov 10, reported 140 outbreaks in poultry and 110 outbreaks in wild birds. Most were in Europe and the Americas, but some were reported from Africa and Asia. The predominant subtype was H5N1.

WOAH noted the first H5N1 detection in Colombia, which marked the first appearance of high path avian flu in South America in about two decades. The group warned that outbreak activity is expected to rise in the coming months, and it urged countries to maintain their surveillance efforts and for producers to beef up their biosecurity practices.

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