Deadly avian influenza viruses have affected 48 million turkeys, chickens and ducks in more than a dozen states since December … a large percentage of the nation’s commercial poultry stock has been decimated.
And the flu epidemic has not only affected farmers. The ripple effect is hurting a range of businesses and consumers. Some lawmakers are concerned that the epidemic could threaten supplies of human influenza vaccines (chicken eggs are used in vaccine production). They are also worried about the potential for transmission of the virus to humans via swine.
Philip Brasher (@PhilipBrasher) is a veteran journalist who covers food and agriculture policy. He wrote this piece for Agri-Pulse.
“The current sub-types of avian influenza do not appear to infect humans, but there is concern they could affect swine, which have spread avian influenza to humans in the past,” the lawmakers say in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services. They also want to know what the government is doing to develop vaccines against the virus.
Lawmakers also want to know what the administration has done to assess the risk of transmission to humans. In addition, they are “asking the Government Accountability Office to review the adequacy of the Agriculture Department’s response to the outbreak.” Among their concerns? “How well USDA is ensuring that poultry producers have adequate biosecurity measures.”
The last detection was June 17.
Other work by Brasher that the UC Food Observer has featured includes: Revised biotech labeling bill set for release and Is ‘test’ vote on crop insurance harbinger of challenges to come?
Egg farms hit hard as avian influenza spreads
Risk low for human infection from U.S. avian flu