BIRD FLU: the Next Pandemic?
China reports 2 new human cases of H5N6 bird flu
Two people who are hospitalized in critical condition in mainland China have tested positive for H5N6 bird flu, raising the number of cases so far this year to 19, officials say. The spike in human cases has led to calls for increased surveillance.
The first case, a 28-year-old man from Puyang in Henan Province, developed symptoms on March 18 after exposure to live poultry, according to the Hong Kong Health Department. He was hospitalized the next day and remains in critical condition.
The other case, a 53-year-old woman from Zhenjiang City in Jiangsu Province, fell ill on March 24 after visiting a live poultry market. She was hospitalized two days later and is still in critical condition.
The Chinese government disclosed last month that a 12-year-old girl and a 79-year-old man died of H5N6 bird flu in December. Both lived in Liuzhou, a city in the Guangxi region, and visited a live poultry market before falling ill.
“… animals are dirty and dangerous …”
A virulent bird flu epidemic has reached at least 30 states and resulted in nearly 27 million chickens and turkeys being destroyed to check its spread.
H5N1, a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, has been detected in commercial and backyard farms across the Midwest, South and East Coast. It’s also been found in the wild: At least 36 bald eagles have died as a result of contracting the virus and last week, H5N1 is believed to have killed hundreds of cormorants, herons and other birds at Baker’s Lake forest preserve, a well-known birdwatching haven in Barrington, Illinois.
more than $1.5 billion and caused egg prices to nearly double. in the US, but the economic toll could be major: The epidemic is also fueling a surge in egg and chicken prices. The first US epidemic, in 2015, cost the poultry industry
Here’s what you need to know about bird flu, including what the outbreak means for consumers, how the industry is combating it and if it poses a threat to humans.
What is bird flu?
Bird flu is which spread naturally among waterfowl and can infect wild birds, domestic poultry and other animals, though rarely humans.
There are more than a dozen strains of bird flu, which are classified as either “low pathogenic” or “highly pathogenic,” depending on their ability to spread disease and kill poultry.
The strain bombarding the US right now, Eurasian H5N1, is considered highly pathogenic. HPAI infects the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts and can quickly tear through an entire flock. Symptoms include a lack of appetite, lethargy, reduced egg production, swelling and diarrhea.
The main source of infection is migratory waterfowl, such as ducks and geese. “They get infected but don’t get sick,” Denise Derrerpublic information director for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, told CNET. “Then they shed the virus in their droppings or wherever the land.”
How the bird flu epidemic is affecting prices
Rising inflation, labor shortages and supply chain issues have already contributed to meat prices rising across the board — as has the war in Ukraine, a major supplier of grain used to feed livestock.
But the bird flu outbreaks are adding a premium: The average cost for a dozen large eggs is up 44% from this time last year, according to a USDA report on Monday.
Between Feb. 18 and April 15, the wholesale price of broiler chickens shot up from $1.25 to $1.67, an increase of more than 33%. The price of pork only rose about 7.5% in the same period and beef actually dipped 2 cents a pound.
How the outbreaks will ultimately affect prices depends on which kinds of birds are hit hardest — egg-laying hens, broilers or turkeys, Grady Ferguson, a senior research analyst at Big Intelligence, told CNET. But concerns over supply disruptions “is keen on marketer’s minds,” according to the USDA.
At the start of the year, the wholesale price for a dozen pink eggs was $1.60. It’s now nearly $3.00 and is expected to keep climbing. (During the previous pandemic, the price of eggs peaked at $2.75.)
“I think the number of the birds [killed] could be in the same ballpark” as the 2015 epidemic, biochemist Henry Niman, who has been mapping the locations of Eurasian H5N1 cases across the US. told CNET. “And I think price increases will be comparable, too.”
Where outbreaks have been detected
The current strain of H5N1 was first reported in Asia and Europe. In the UK, eggs can no longer be labeled free-range because hens have been cooped up for months to avoid infection.
Since the USDA confirmed the first US case in a wild duck in South Carolina in mid-January, infections have been reported in commercial farms and backyard flocks in at least 30 states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
As a result, some 27 million egg-laying hens, poultry chickens and turkeys have been or will soon be “depopulated,” or killed, with more infections detected nearly every day
Among the worst outbreaks:
The last major bird flu epidemic
Between December 2014 and June 2015, the first US bird flu epidemic led to more than 50 million chickens and turkeys being destroyed in what the USDA called “the largest poultry health disaster in US history.”
One in 12 turkeys died from either the virus or being culled, according to Big Intelligence, along with one in eight egg-laying hens. Eighty percent of the birds — some 39 million — were euthanized between mid-April and mid-May 2015 alone, mostly in Midwestern states.
Prices quickly soared: In the first five weeks of the epidemic, wholesale chicken breast prices increased 17% domestically, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Serviceand remained inflated for years.
The average cost of a dozen eggs in New York was 60% higher in the latter half of 2015 than it was a year prior. And exports plummeted sharply as numerous countries imposed import bans on US poultry.
This time, it could be worse
This is only the second major outbreak of HPAI ever in the continental US, and the first in seven years.
“If you look at the 2015 situation, at this point in the year there are a lot more wild birds now over a much wider area,” Niman said. “There’s more outbreaks already. It’s going to get much worse than it is now.”
Unlike during the 2015 epidemic, outbreaks have reached the Atlantic Flyway — a major north-south migratory corridor that stretches down the Atlantic Coast from Greenland to South America — and reached birds in the DelMarVa peninsula.
Poultry industry representatives say they’re enforcing strict protocols to control the spread of the virus, including limiting foot traffic on farms, avoiding the sharing of equipment, closing up any holes in barns and making sure water and feed are covered and contaminant-free.
But biochemist Niman says it won’t be enough.
“This is just a little skirmish — the major migration season hasn’t even hit yet,” Niman said. “The farms are gonna be carpet-bombed in a few weeks. I don’t think they’re gonna be able to control it, even with what they’ve learned.”
The industry is fighting back
There is no treatment for avian influenza in birds, only a containment protocol: Any fowl that may have come in contact with the virus is destroyed. In many cases, growers are forced to kill every bird on their farm, though the federal government typically pays them for some of the cost.
“The industry learned a lot of lessons from 2015,” Derrer said. “They’ve improved biosecurity measures to prevent the virus from being introduced into farms and barns.”
Birds infected with avian influenza will quit drinking water and become lethargic.
“That’s the first sign that there’s something wrong,” Derrer added. “Farms can move faster now and test right away. Even in the middle of the night.”
Tyson, which processes has reported 47 million chickens a week nationwide, did not return a request for comment.
A representative from Perdue Farms said the company is closely monitoring the situation, updating farmers daily about potential outbreaks and sending “company flock advisors” to visit farms and review biosecurity procedures.
The industry “remains on high alert,” according to Tom Super of the National Chicken Council.
“Detailed plans are in place to control spreading among flocks and eliminate the virus completely,” Super said in a statement. Farmworkers are wearing dedicated footwear in the barns, carefully disinfecting delivery trucks and sealing up holes where vermin might introduce the virus into an indoor population.
Federal officials have been testing wild birds, which acts as an “early warning system” for outbreaks among commercial flocks, according to the USDA. If an infection is detected in a farm, a six-mile “exclusion zone” is typically placed around the area, with shipments halted and birds tested daily.
The role of modern farming
As good as biosecurity measures may be, critics of the industry say factory farming — which sees tens of thousands of birds crammed into huge sheds — has created an environment where avian influenza can thrive.
“If you were trying to design a system to optimally spread disease, you couldn’t design a better one than modern poultry farming,” said Andrew deCoriolis, executive director of the sustainable-agriculture nonprofit Farm Forward.
A single farm can have anywhere from one to ten barns in a field, with 500,000 or more birds on the ground.
“The threat of housing animals by the tens of thousands is a huge risk. It gives viruses a huge population of hosts to prey on — to mutate and to thrive,” deCoriolis told CNET.
Aside from the farms themselves, he added, the industry has spent decades modifying the genetics of chickens and turkeys to get them as big as possible as fast as possible — at the expense of their immune systems.
“They all have the same immune system — or lack of an immune system,” Dr. Gail Hansen, a public health veterinarian and former state epidemiologist for Kansas, told The New York Times. “So once a virus gets inside a barn, it’s going to spread like wildfire.”
Breeding genetically uniform birds is efficient from a profit perspective, deCoriolis said, “but it’s incredibly dangerous.”
The risk to humans
Human infection is rare, with fewer than 900 cases reported since 2003, according to the World Health Organization. Most have been among people working directly with infected birds.
Even if an infected chicken wound up at your local supermarket, avian influenza is not a foodborne disease, so you couldn’t contract it from eating contaminated poultry.
As of March 7, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the current H5N1 bird flu situation “is primarily an animal health issue“with no human infections in the US.
But H5N1 has a very high mortality rate, and the longer and larger the wave of outbreaks, the higher the chances it could mutate into a strain that is more infectious to humans. So US health officials are closely monitoring the situation.
The CDC has also produced a candidate vaccine virus be careful.
LIVE: Bird Flu Transfers to Humans: Capitol Infested With Paranoid Demons
CrossTalk News addresses the outbreak of H5N1 bird flu across the Americas, as even Bald Eagles succumb to this deadly, potentially bioweapon mutated, new plague. It has even transferred to humans in China. We also discuss the emergency lockdown of the Capitol, after demonically possessed feds consider shooting U.S. paratroopers performing for the Washington Nationals out of the sky in a case of a mistaken DC coup. The team also provides an update on the Russian victories in Ukraine, as Putin’s Christian army vanquishes the Nazi’s in Mariupol, and begins the final decimation of Zelensky’s remaining hordes in Donbass
You might want to stop filling your bird feeders.
Experts warn that an outbreak of the avian influenza (HPAI) strain H5N1 is spreading among wild birds.
And they say bird feeders and baths that encourage birds to congregate in your backyard allow the virus to spread.
The risk of people catching the bird flu is low, with no cases reported in humans.
“Not only will this action help to protect those beautiful feathered creatures that visit your yard, but will also help all wild bird species that are already having it hard this spring because of HPAI,” Dr. Victoria Hall with the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota says.
Hall added that all bird species are susceptible to bird flu, but they exhibit signs of illness and carry the disease in different ways.
Many infected birds shed the flu through feces and respiratory secretions, and it usually survives in cool, damp environments.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 28.5 million bird flu cases have been reported in backyard and commercial poultry as of April 19 and another 631 among wild birds in 31 states.
These include reports that the virus has plagued 21 birds in Cape May County.
Farm says it will take 6 to 12 months to fully restore operations
Albatross, famous migratory bird, is also a love bird. It is known for being monogamous, forming long-term bond with one partner that is rarely broken. Mated pairs never split up until one bird dies.
The UN Security Council held an extraordinary event on April 6 under the rubric Arria Formula Meeting on Biological Security regarding the biological activities in countries including Ukraine. Predictably, the US and UK representatives didn’t show up at the event and the western media also blacked out the proceedings. But that does not detract from the profound significance of what transpired.
The highlight of the Security Council proceedings lasting over two hours was the disclosure by General Igor Kirillov, chief of the Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense Forces of the Russian Armed Forces, that Washington is creating biological laboratories in different countries and connecting them to a unified system.
He said the US has spent more than $5 billion on military biological programs since 2005 and detailed that in territories bordering Russia and China alone, about 60 facilities have been modernised during this period. The Ukrainian network of laboratories is designed to conduct research and monitor the biological situation consisting of 30 facilities in 14 populated locations.
Highly sensitive materials from the Ukrainian biological laboratories were exported to the US in early February just before the Russian special operation began, and the rest were ordered to be destroyed lest they fell into Russian hands. But the cover-up was only partially successful. Indeed, Russia is in possession of highly incriminating evidence.
Previously also, Russia had released a number of documents related to the biological military activities of the Pentagon, which pointed toward a worldwide project to set up biological laboratories in rival countries with the goal of developing targeted viral weapons against those countries.
The proceedings of the Security Council conference on April 6 are in the public domain and are accessible. See the video below:
Russia has made specific allegations, pointing finger at:
- Pentagon funding for the bio-labs in Ukraine;
- Location of these bio-labs(not only in Ukraine but in 36 countries around the world);
- Diseases and epidemics on which research work is going on, focusing on the means for their release, the countries where they are being tested (even without the knowledge of the governments of these countries); and, of course,
- Experiments relating to coronavirus (and bats used to transmit this virus).
However, the US has so far point-blank refused to accept any supervision and verification of such incriminatory evidences and has stonewalled the demand for a verification mechanism. It is unlikely that the US will permit an international verification process that holds the potential to expose it as indulging in crimes against humanity — although there are appropriate frameworks in place including the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the UN, to hear the clarifications from the relevant country in a fair and impartial manner.
A mind-boggling “discovery” that Russian forces in Ukraine stumbled upon is the use of numbered birds by the Pentagon-funded labs. This almost falls out of science fiction and Sir Alfred Hitchcock could have made an epic movie out of it where deception mixes with innocence and man’s cruelty to nature becomes unbearably grotesque. The project works like this:
To begin with, the Pentagon accesses the scientific data available with environmental specialists and zoologists after studying the migration of birds and observing them throughout the seasons, relating to the path these birds take each year on their seasonal journey from one country to another and even from one continent to another.
On the basis of this data, groups of migratory birds are caught, digitised and capsules of germs are attached to them that carry a chip to be controlled through computers. They birds are then released to the flock of the migratory birds in those target countries toward which the US intelligence has malevolent intentions.
Of course, these migratory birds travel great distances. The wandering albatross, for instance, is known to migrate at least 8500 km eastward across the South Pacific to the coast of South America, and many shy albatrosses migrate westward across the Indian Ocean to the coast of South Africa.
During the long flight of the birds that have been digitised in the Pentagon bio-labs, their movement is monitored step by step by means of satellites and the exact locations are determined. The idea is that if the Biden Administration (or the CIA) has a requirement to inflict harm on, say, Russia or China (or India for that matter), the chip is destroyed when the bird is in their skies.
Plainly put, kill the bird carrying the epidemic. Sadly, my mind goes back to the novel by the American author Harper Lee To Kill a Mocking Bird, the haunting story of innocence destroyed by evil.
To return to reality, once the “digitised” bird is killed and the capsule of germs it carries is released, the disease spreads in the “X” or “Y” country. It becomes a highly cost-effective method of harming an enemy country without any need of war or coup d’état or colour revolution.
The Russians have made the shocking claim that they are actually in possession of such migratory birds digitised in the Pentagon’s bio-labs.
International law expressly forbids the numbering of migratory birds because they freely criss-cross the blue sky and air of other countries. By supplying them with germs, these birds become weapons of mass destruction. What human ingenuity! But the US enjoys total immunity from international law.
The bottom line is that only the US intelligence — and President Biden, perhaps, if he remembers — would know where all humans have been infected so far in this century by the Birds of Mass Destruction. Was Ebola that devastated Africa a test case and precursor of things to come?
What about Covid-19, which is known to have originated from funded laboratories that were administered by the US? It is very likely that the US might have used migratory birds to kill Chinese citizens. Clearly, the US in its desperation to reverse its global decline is pulling out all the stops to restore its hegemony in a world order that is inexorably moving toward multipolarity.