Bird Flu Reported in Multiple US Locations

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
February 23, 2022Updated: February 23, 2022

Avian flu has been detected in multiple locations across the United States, including in New York, Kentucky, Virginia, and Florida.

Poultry farmers in New York were asked by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets to “increase their biosecurity measures to help prevent the spread” of bird flu after it was detected in a flock in Long Island, New York.

The department said it found cases of avian flu in a flock of eight birds in Suffolk County.

“The Department is working closely with USDA APHIS on a joint incident response,” the department said.

In Florida, several birds infected with the bird flu strain were found dead in Brevard, Indian River, and Volusia counties.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that it was investigating the deaths believed to be linked to the “Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.” 

It added that there low risk of transmission to humans. There have been no cases in humans detected in the United States yet.

Wild birds can transmit avian flu to each other or to poultry through direct contact and through their feathers or feces.

Infections were also found in Kentucky in a flock of 240,000 birds owned by Tyson Foods.

“We are actively working with state and federal officials to prevent the spread of the virus,” a Tyson Foods spokesperson said. “Although the origin of the infection is not known, avian influenza has been found in migratory wild birds which play a significant role in spreading the disease.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has advised poultry producers to review safety measures to assure the health of their flocks and said people should wear gloves when dealing with wild birds.

City Wildlife, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, said infected birds may display symptoms such as sneezing and coughing, nose and eye discharge, swollen eyes and legs, patchy, discolored skin, and uncoordinated movement.

People should avoid handling infected or dead birds, but should wear gloves and a face mask if need be.

The United States is the world’s largest producer and second-largest exporter of poultry meat, according to the U.S. government.

China, South Korea, and Mexico banned poultry imports from Indiana after it reported highly pathogenic bird flu on a commercial turkey farm.

In 2015, a devastating U.S. bird-flu outbreak killed nearly 50 million birds, mostly turkeys and egg-laying chickens in the Midwest.

“Everyone is just sitting on edge because we know what can happen and we don’t want a repeat of that,” said Denise Heard, vice president of research for the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, an industry group.

There have been more than 700 outbreaks of bird flu in Europe, with more than 20 countries affected since October 2021. Tens of millions of birds have been culled.

Reuters contributed to this report.