A deadly bird flu strain has permeated over 15 farms in the Midwest, forcing farmers to euthanize more than 525,000 birds in the affected regions, according to The New York Times. Minnesota’s turkey farms have been under quarantine in an effort to keep the deadly virus from spreading, although it has already reached Arkansas, California, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and South Dakota, according to the USDA.
Experts are pretty sure that this version of the bird flu is spreading via migratory birds like Canadian geese by way of feathers, feet and feces. With the changing of the seasons, migrating birds will pick up diseases from one another as they change environments. As a result of the quickly spreading virus, China, Japan, and South Africa have either curbed or halted their imports of American poultry products. However, there is very minimal reason to panic, because the CDC estimates “the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections to be low. No human cases of these HPAI H5 viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally.”
Although 525,000 sounds like a large number, the relative impact has been small, farmers say, since 240 to 270 million turkeys are produced annually in the Midwest. The affected population is still under 5 percent of the total flock, but farmers are taking extra sanitary precautions.