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‘Largest avian flu outbreak in U.S. history’ has killed more than 52 million birds, 4.7 million in Colorado

By Olivia Young

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    COLORADO (KCNC) — Colorado State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab does all of the state’s testing for avian flu, including identifying the first-ever outbreak among domestic birds in Colorado. The unprecedented outbreak, which has been felt across the nation, is once again spiking.

“We really don’t know what’s next in this outbreak,” said Maggie Baldwin, state veterinarian with Colorado’s Department of Agriculture. She says the fall surge in cases, follows one in the spring of 2022, based on bird migration.

“This virus is carried by wild birds, primarily waterfowl and shorebird species. So when we see increased migration, we expect that we’re going to see more virus,” said Baldwin.

The virus has a near 100% mortality rate in poultry, so entire flocks must be euthanized if flu is detected in one member.

“Across the United States we have lost more than 52 million birds,” said Baldwin. It’s the largest avian flu outbreak in U.S. history. In Colorado, 4.7 million domestic poultry birds have died in the outbreak this year.

“That represents more than 85% of our total table egg-laying population in the state,” said Baldwin.

The impact of that population loss is being felt by Colorado’s consumers at the checkout.

“20-some percent increase in prices in table eggs, also broiler chickens, and turkeys,” said Baldwin.

From price hikes to egg shortages, don’t expect the strain on your wallet to stop spreading, until the avian flu does.

“This one we’re expecting we’re going to have a prolonged outbreak,” said Baldwin.

Everyone can take steps to reduce the spread of avian flu. If you’re a bird owner, make sure to reduce contact between your bird and wild ones. And even if you’re not, make sure to clean your shoes after walking in a park or anywhere you might encounter wild birds.

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