The merest mention of bird flu is enough to send shivers down the spine of a chicken farmer. But as the U.S. deals with its first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza on a farm in a year, the poultry industry hasn’t started to panic.
Learning lessons after the worst-ever U.S. outbreak two years ago, America’s chicken, turkey and egg producers are gearing up with tighter biosecurity measures and quicker quarantines to deter spread of the infection. One thing working in their favor: early spring-like weather in the region that can stop the virus from thriving.
A U.S. outbreak of avian influenza in 2015 wiped out more than 48 million birds through infection and culling. The scourge that year sent egg prices soaring and prompted countries around the globe to ban U.S. shipments of poultry products. Exports have only started to recover and another epidemic would threaten the livelihood of farmers at time when agriculture incomes are slumping. South Korea and other countries have already placed some restrictions on American shipments.
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