(Reuters) – About 4 million commercially raised U.S. chickens and turkeys have been killed since February due to outbreaks of a highly lethal type of bird flu, data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows.
Flocks are culled after the disease is detected to prevent it from spreading, and importing countries including Mexico, China and Korea have imposed state-specific import restrictions in response.
The bird flu outbreak is the worst since 2015, when nearly 50 million birds, mostly turkeys and egg-laying chickens in the U.S. Midwest, were killed. It comes at a time when food prices are skyrocketing due to labor shortages, supply-chain problems and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a key wheat and corn exporter. Widespread outbreaks of bird flu in poultry could reduce demand for crops used for feed.
Below are outbreaks in commercial flocks reported by the USDA:
IOWA: The USDA said on March 11 that a flock of 915,925 egg-laying chickens in Iowa, the top U.S. egg-producing state, was infected with highly pathogenic bird flu. A flock of 49,816 turkeys in the state was also culled after the disease was detected. Iowa was at the center of the biggest-ever U.S. outbreak of avian flu in 2015.
MARYLAND: A flock of 150,000 broiler chickens, which are raised for meat, and a flock of 496,272 egg-laying chickens were culled after birds tested positive for avian flu.
SOUTH DAKOTA: A flock of 47,330 birds of mixed species was infected.
MISSOURI: The USDA has confirmed outbreaks in two turkey flocks and one broiler-chicken flock in Missouri, for a total of about 426,295 birds affected.
DELAWARE: Bird flu hit a commercial poultry farm with 1.1 million birds in February, significantly expanding the number of birds impacted in the United States. Another farm with 265,000 pullets, or young chickens, was infected in March.
KENTUCKY: A flock of about 231,398 chickens owned by Tyson Foods Inc (NYSE:) in Kentucky tested positive. Testing also confirmed highly lethal bird flu in a 53,286-bird commercial turkey flock.
INDIANA: Indiana had outbreaks on six turkey farms, with about 171,733 birds affected, the USDA said.
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