Bird flu continues to spread around the world, threatening poultry stocks. The disease is very deadly to poultry, and entire flocks can be culled if even one bird tests positive. According to Reuters, experts and veterinarians have reported that the avian-borne virus has spread to several wild bird species, which can transmit the virus to domesticated poultry. Wild birds are the primary source of the virus and can spread it to poultry through their waste products. Experts interviewed by Reuters warned that the prevalence of bird flu in the wild could perpetuate the number of outbreaks on poultry farms and act as a constant threat to the world’s food supply.
As a result of the virus and inflation, global egg prices have skyrocketed, making a basic source of cheap protein increasingly out of reach for many people. Outbreaks of the virus have been reported in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and have not been deterred by weather. The United States, Britain, France, and Japan have all suffered record losses of poultry stocks.
South American nations are now reporting bird flu cases for the first time, with Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia reporting their first cases in recent months. Brazil, the world’s top global chicken exporter, has not reported any cases yet, but remains on alert. Argentina and Uruguay declared national emergencies after officials confirmed the presence of the virus.
The avian flu can also infect wild mammals and people, but the World Health Organization says the risk to humans is low. To prevent the spread of the virus, poultry facility staff must maintain a 12-month lookout for outbreaks, and farmers in northern countries have tried unusual tactics to protect poultry, such as using machines that make loud noises to scare off wild birds. Vaccinations are not considered to be a perfect solution, as they merely reduce, but not eliminate the threat from the virus and make it harder to detect its presence among a flock. Mexico and the European Union are now implementing or considering vaccinations for their poultry stocks.