The infections come after 29,000 turkeys were destroyed in Indiana once officials detected the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, last week in Dubois County. Federal officials said the Indiana outbreak was the first confirmed case in commercial poultry in the United States since 2020.
The developments raise concerns that avian influenza could affect more poultry operations in the United States, which is the world’s top producer of poultry and the No. 2 exporter in volume, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. They also come as the United States is seeing higher than usual inflation rates in necessities such as food.
Avian influenza doesn’t pose a public health risk to humans, U.S. agriculture officials said, so long as poultry and eggs are properly cooked at internal temperatures above 165 degrees. No human cases of avian influenza have been detected in the United States, although more than 700 global cases have been reported since 2003, federal officials say.
Tyson Foods is heightening biosecurity measures at other farms in the region, Gary Mickelson, a company spokesman, said in an emailed statement. The company tests all flocks for avian influenza before the birds leave the farms, he said. The recent outbreak will not affect Tyson’s overall chicken production, because thousands of farms raise the birds for the firm, he added.
In a deadly outbreak that occurred between December 2014 and June 2015, more than 50 million chickens and turkeys either died of HPAI or were killed to stop the disease’s spread, according to the Agriculture Department.
The federal government spent almost $880 million at the time to pay for the destruction of infected poultry, cleaning and indemnities for lost birds. The outbreak also led to a $1.1 billion decrease in exports of broiler chickens in 2015, compared with the prior year. Egg export income declined by $41 million, while income for turkey export fell by $177 million during the same period.