Sunday, May 10, 2015

Avian flu: woe to the midwest chicken

I don't have cable and this hasn't popped on my Facebook news feed but avian flu is raging through midwest farms like early scenes in Stephen King's The Stand (all of humanity is wiped out by a disease save a handful of people).  

Chickens, primarily, but also turkeys and ducks are falling ill and the culprit is HPA1 H5N2. Thousands of birds have fallen ill but the real apocalypse is when we try to get ahead of the disease but obliterating all the poultry at a particular ranch. So far there have been 135 poultry farms affected and over 20 million birds will be euthanized or dead by the time they are to be euthanized (more details here). The economic scope must be huge. This not only affects those giant poultry farms with hundreds of thousands of birds but barnyard flocks. 

I'll have to read up on the epidemiology to see if these are driven by poultry factories or large numbers of small farms. I suspect the former but in either case if the HP (highly pathogenic) strains are here to stay they may change how we farm.

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